A broad cross-section of people comes through the doors of the St. Vincent de Paul Community Kitchen and Resource Center—clients who are hungry and homeless, volunteers, others doing community service and crucial donors of food and finances. These are a few:
Dwight, 62, originally from Buffalo, is truly homeless and jobless. He says he made some mistakes in life, which led to a restraining order and being put out of the house by his wife a decade ago. He had done factory work, but new owners of the company had let him go.
With no job, no money and no housing, Dwight nevertheless comes in neat and well-groomed for a good, warm meal every day. He receives his mail here and gets a regular health check up every six months. For housing, he sleeps on cardboard behind a Clearwater building. He is planning to apply for Social Security retirement benefits to provide a small income. “Otherwise, I’m in great shape,” Dwight said.
Joe, 70, of nearby Belleair, has been volunteering his time at the food-serving counter for about five years. It has been a family tradition. His aunt volunteered here and then his wife, before Joe joined the Monday morning volunteer team. He can be found bringing out serving trays of meat, vegetables and salad, as well as a fresh pot of soup, which are all part of the regular daily meals.
On this particular Monday, Joe is assisting a group of student volunteer servers, clad in school uniforms of blue shirts and shorts from St. Cecelia Interparochial Catholic School, who are spooning out a hearty meal onto client’s food trays. Joe is a retired operations manager for a rubber company.
Community Kitchen and Resource Center begin in Pinellas Country in 1982. The SVdP Soup Kitchen has been at the Park St., Clearwater location since 2011. Focused on client self-sufficiency, serving breakfast to the poor and hungry.