July 15, 2022

Friends to honor man who did ‘God’s work’ in event to raise funds for Cathedral Soup Kitchen in Indianapolis

Jenny Matthews, left, and Mary Ann Klein are leading a fundraiser for Cathedral Soup Kitchen in Indianapolis to make desperately-needed improvements at the facility and to honor their late friend, Kenny Schutt, a longtime volunteer there. In this photo, they are volunteering for a sale at Mission 27, a retail store that benefits the efforts of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. (Submitted photo)

Jenny Matthews, left, and Mary Ann Klein are leading a fundraiser for Cathedral Soup Kitchen in Indianapolis to make desperately-needed improvements at the facility and to honor their late friend, Kenny Schutt, a longtime volunteer there. In this photo, they are volunteering for a sale at Mission 27, a retail store that benefits the efforts of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

It’s a story of friendship—the ways people become friends, the paths they take together, and the ways we try to honor a treasured friend.

Mary Ann Klein and Jenny Matthews have been friends ever since they met at Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School in Indianapolis as members of the class of 1964. In recent years, their friendship has led to a lot of volunteer work together, including leading a fundraiser for the past four years for the Indianapolis chapter of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, to help individuals and families in need.

Their volunteer work also led to a friendship with Kenny Schutt, who assisted them at every turn in those fundraisers.

So when Schutt approached them in late January about spearheading a fundraising event to make needed improvements at the Cathedral Soup Kitchen in Indianapolis, they quickly told him yes—an agreement that Schutt regarded as an early gift for his approaching 50th birthday on Feb. 7.

Six days after his birthday, Schutt died of a heart attack.

Ever since then, Klein and Matthews have been planning the fundraiser as a tribute to Schutt, who was also a longtime volunteer at the soup kitchen that serves more than 3,200 meals and provides food pantry items to about 1,100 people each month.

The event will be on Aug. 5, starting with a Mass at 5:15 p.m. at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis, followed by a tour of the adjacent soup kitchen, and ending with a dinner across the street in the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center.

“It’s a one-time event,” Klein says. “They do so much there. They welcome everybody and treat everybody like they are a special person.”

Klein and Matthews feel the same way about Schutt, who had gone through some tough times before finding his footing in life.

“He just had a good heart and soul for people who needed help,” Matthews says. “He devoted his life to helping people. We wanted to do this in memory of him.”

Klein shares a story from Christmas of 2021 to show the heart of Schutt, a story that took place in the gym of Holy Cross Central School in Indianapolis.

“On Christmas Eve, Joe and I went down to Holy Cross to set up a dinner for the homeless,” Klein says, referring to her husband. “Kenny came down to help. Then he went down on Christmas day to help with the dinner. And he was there the next day when they gave the extra food to people who needed it. I don’t know if he did anything to celebrate Christmas for himself.”

When Schutt met for lunch with Matthews and Klein in January, he gave them a tour of the Cathedral Soup Kitchen, wanting to give them a firsthand look at the improvements that need to be made, including updates to the flooring, wiring and plumbing. His friends are hoping to raise $100,000, and they’re also looking for in-kind donations from people who could do the work.

“We’re trying to do this fundraiser as low-cost as we can, so all the money goes to the soup kitchen,” Klein says. “We want people to go on the tour to see how much needs to be done. We want to get this in better shape.”

While Matthews is a member of St. Matthew the Apostle Parish in Indianapolis, Klein is a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Indianapolis. So is Linda Eichholtz, the director of the Cathedral Soup Kitchen for the past five years.

Eichholtz says that the soup kitchen has been blessed by generous donors in the past, but this is the first fundraiser.

“The fundraiser was Kenny’s idea,” she says as she sits on a stool in the soup kitchen. “He was always willing to do whatever was needed.”

With a smile, she added, “He did all the painting. Painting wasn’t really his forte, but it worked. He was great at demolition. He’d be here all night sometimes. His heart was always in the right place.”

His heart was focused on creating a better facility for the people who rely on the soup kitchen for providing a hot meal at breakfast and a sacked lunch to get them through the day—a number that has nearly doubled since the start of the COVID pandemic, Eichholtz says.

“We desperately need some electrical work and smoke alarms and new floors everywhere,” she says. “And we have plumbing issues with our old pipes here.”

Her smile returns as she adds, “The volunteers are what make it work. They’re incredible people. I know we’re doing good things because I can tell by the people who come—our guests. We do a prayer every morning. There are a lot of mental issues here, but they settle down when we say the Lord’s Prayer. There’s a calm.”

The impact on Eichholtz has been huge.

“Your heart just gets big,” she says about serving the people who rely on the soup kitchen. “You realize how blessed you are.”

For Eichholtz, Klein and Matthews, that blessing includes getting to know Schutt. The fundraiser gives them one more opportunity to remember and honor him as a friend who was always there for them and others.

“He would be humbled by this,” Matthews says. “He just touched so many lives. He was doing God’s work.”
 

(Tickets for the Aug. 5 fundraiser are $50 a person and must be purchased by July 27. For information about the fundraiser, contact Mary Ann Klein at klein.j@sbcglobal.net or at 317-796-6325, or Jenny Matthews at jmattbogey@gmail.com or 317-289-3324. For anyone who can’t attend and wants to contribute, send a check, made out to SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral Soup Kitchen, to: Jenny Matthews, 424 Bent Tree Lane, Indianapolis, IN 46260.) †

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