Published! Being fed by Mama Kim and her Golden Rule Moments

Being fed by Mama Kim and her Golden Rule Moments

Albert Celoza

Special to The Republic

In light of the pandemic and the many threats to our health and survival, one of the most suggested concepts is “self-care.” Self-care would say, “Only you know best what is good for you, and you are your best advocate. So, make sure to take good care of yourself.”

On reflection this sounds good, but I think an even more powerful idea is this paradoxical concept: in taking care of others, you take better care of yourself. In “forgetting” your own pain while attending to another person’s suffering, you reap the benefits, and your good deed will be returned. To many this could describe Golden Rule Moments.

A good example of this is a person I know, Mama Kim. I have known Sukhui ‘Mama’ Kim for almost a year now. We dance Zumba together in the gym and the highlight of our after-class conversation is the food she prepares for the homeless in her neighborhood on the west side of Phoenix. She would show me pictures of an array of beautifully prepared plates of sumptuous dishes with rice, meat and vegetables, placed in individual plates for her “friends” who make the various Phoenix parks their shelter.

Prior to moving to the United States, Mama Kim grew up in Korea where she learned dance and music. For many years she worked in various Phoenix restaurants as a food server. During those years, she touched many people’s lives. They remember her because of her genuine friendly demeanor and concern. In her retirement she cannot help but continue, not only to serve food, but to prepare the food lovingly as well. She volunteers for Andre House, visits nursing homes, plays the piano, sings, and quite impressively dances and celebrates with the people whom she serves. (Mama Kim was a ballet dancer and you can see her elegant renditions in her youtube channel as well as her kitchen where all the magical cooking happens.)

Why does she do all these with great love and care? She said that all her work is a ministry dedicated to Jesus. She is a living testament to me of the Golden Rule and the teaching, – “what you do for the least of your brothers and sisters you do to me”. Mama Kim is the embodiment of love in motion. She is well-anchored in her faith and her kindness to the unsheltered and hungry is a living manifestation of Jesus’ love. Someone asked her, what does Jesus look like? Her answer: he is a person of many colors. It doesn’t matter what church, religion, race, age or ethnicity, Mama Kim will be there to care and serve.

With a nice smile, she amusingly told me that one of her friends said, “How I wish I could put your food in and carry it in my pocket.” While the homeless and the hungry eat and enjoy the food she serves, we can all savor the Golden Rule moments she continues to share with us after Zumba Class. The good deeds she shares with us will keep us fed for a lifetime.

Albert Celoza, Ph.D., is the executive director of the Arizona Interfaith Movement.

Some of the food Mama Kim prepared for the homeless in her neighborhood on the west side of Phoenix. ALBERT CELOZA

Albert Celoza and Mama Kim. ALBERT CELOZA

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