The line of politely waiting patrons was already dozens deep when stopped by St. Anthony’s Padua Dining Room last week. Also waiting were two of the non-profit organization’s volunteers, Bob Dehn and Patricia Papalian (pictured above). on hand to give a tour of the festively decorated dining room and gleaming kitchen.
Bob, who coordinates St. Anthony’s many volunteers – both individuals and groups – had a list of non-profits to investigate when he retired from SRI in 2007; St. Anthony’s was the first one he checked out. “I thought I’d contribute my services to different places over the course of a week or month,” he says. “But I just got ‘stuck’ here. I’ve always had an interest in cooking for large groups – and St. Anthony’s certainly qualifies!”
The Dining Room began serving low-income elderly a weekend meal supplement in 1974. It’s now a six-day-a-week (Mon-Sat) year round operation serving up to 600 hot midday meals. The three big meals of the year are Thanksgiving , Christmas and Easter. A holiday wish list for both food and clothing is posted on the organization’s website. If you’re interested in volunteering, call (650) 365-9665.
Patricia, a new volunteer, is involved with media relations and development. “I was unsure at first if I’d be up to the challenge,” she says. “But I quickly found out what a happy, joyful place this is. It’s becomes addictive – you just want to come back. It’s so much more than just providing food and clothing, it’s a whole culture that really nourishes people.”
In addition to Christmas dinner from noon to 2:00 pm, St. Anthony’s hosts a toy giveaway on Christmas Eve starting at 7:00 am. Children two to 14 are given the opportunity to pick out one unwrapped toy. People interested in donating toys – or food and clothing – should drop them by St. Anthony’s, which is located at 3500 Middlefield Rd., Menlo Park. The organization also welcomes your donation of cash by either check or credit card.