Editorials

Food pantry director loses his eye, but not his perspective on caring

Mike Foppe has a really good reason to be bitter so soon after losing his left eye in an attack by a homeless man he’d repeatedly helped feed.

Old Testament justice goes immediately through most of our minds. So does turning your back after giving so much only to lose so much.

But then Foppe provides everyone with a living parable. He shows the character of a faithful person who’s most recent service is volunteering at least 50 hours a week to run the Community Interfaith Food Pantry and feed the Belleville area’s needy.

“If it had to happen to somebody, I’d rather it happen to me than one of my volunteers because they’re more ‘mature’ than I am,” he said, laughing, on Sunday.

Three days later he’s able to joke about an assault that leaves him permanently changed. With little time to process what’s happened to him, his concern turns to others.

Cortez L. Wilson, 41, faces felony aggravated battery charges after the attack on Foppe and another volunteer. Wilson was homeless and regularly received help at the pantry. Foppe said it appeared Wilson was under the influence during the attack.

So here’s the tough part: What does your faith or what do your ethics teach about how you treat a homeless man whose dependency and other issues damaged another for a lifetime? What should our community do?

What would Mike do?

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