Through out last week and this morning, volunteers worked tirelessly in preparation for the Easter meal being served at St. Anthony’s Padua Dining Room in Menlo Park from noon to 2:30 pm today.
They procured and sorted the extra supplies needed including the whole frozen turkeys and cooked hams that will be the main course, and a committee of volunteers decorated the dining room with sunny balloons and flowers.
“It is a time when friends congregate and catch up, and many come from many miles around because of the welcoming spirit, lovingly prepared food and camaraderie,” says Gary Glover, Chair of the Padua Dining Room Advisory Council, “The volunteers uniformly feel delighted that their hard work makes such an impactful difference in others’ lives, and they go home smiling, too.”
In the weeks leading up to special occasions, like Easter, more hands are needed to do the extra preparation work; Padua Dining Room relies upon about 200 regular volunteers according to Bob Dehn, Volunteer Coordinator, who organizes larger groups coming from local businesses, schools, and community organizations.
“Volunteers who come in once, often wish to return, because they see the big impact they can make and feel and see how we are nourishing the community in so many ways beyond the actual food,” adds Dehn. “Easter is a time when many feel called to give, but we hope that those folks will come back and bring others to volunteer regularly in the dining room.”
Tucked into the border of Atherton, Menlo Park, and Redwood City, St. Anthony’s Padua Dining Room is an often-overlooked kitchen compared to larger operations in the city of San Francisco, but it is the largest soup kitchen on the Peninsula mainly serving southern San Mateo and northern Santa Clara counties. In addition to its free hot meal program, Padua Dining Room also provides take-home groceries and free clothing to guests. They have a “no questions asked and no one turned away” policy.
Volunteers and monetary donations are needed year-round and very much appreciated. More information is available on the organizaton’s website.