January 2019:  The new Dining Room in the St. Anthony Center opened 12/20/2017 and operates Monday through Friday serving Breakfast and Dinner. The Center for Respite Care Kitchenette is used daily by their clients and staff as needed when meals are not provided through the SAC Dining Room. Since opening last year, the St. Francis Seraph Ministries’ (SFSM) Dining Room has served over 69,000 meals and provided 6,000 Bag Lunches each month.

Approximately 350-400 meals per day are now served to those in need in our community. Additionally, SFSM expanded the Bag Lunch program to 6,000 mobile meals per month because of the extra storage space available in their new kitchen. The Dining Room fills the gap for our homeless neighbors as they have a safe, regular place to visit when other agencies are closed. Many of our neighbors now work because they have access to meals morning and at night which accommodates their work schedule. The best news about the impact of this grant funding is the 1,200 new volunteers who were recruited and served our programs during the past year. Collectively these volunteers donated over 16,500 hours of time, valued at $384,960.

The SFSM Dining Room program has provided the opportunity for many neighbors to find the resources they need to take the next steps needed to improve their lives.

Read more about the impact to one of our neighbors who are returning from incarceration here.

Over the past year SFSM added two new staff members who serve as our Client Services Coordinator. These staff members are assigned to connect with neighbors, learn their needs and help them navigate the services available to them.

This past summer during the homeless crisis SFSM successfully placed two chronically homeless women into a local shelter program because they were connected to our Client Services Coordinator and they trusted her.

SFSM is now a member of the local Hamilton County Re-Entry Program which helps those newly released from jail. Hamilton County Corrections sends all newly released inmates to SFSM early in the morning so they can have breakfast and get started on their paperwork to connect with the services they need. The morning after Labor Day a newly released inmate arrived for breakfast. She was alone, a recovering heroin addict and very afraid to be on the streets fearing the heroin dealers who knew she was now out of jail. Fortunately, the Welcome Home Collaborative, a St. Anthony Center partner, had one empty room for a female that day and she moved in immediately. After 30 days living at Welcome Home and finding a full-time job, she went to live with her mother until she is able to afford an apartment.

SFSM is a place where people can come and find a warm meal, caring staff and volunteers offering help and hope to those who are often very discouraged. The personal connections people make in the SFSM Dining Room are building community for those who are displaced and often feel rejected.