From John Stewart, VP of Celebrate Outreach:
Last week we moved our Friday night dinner from its usual location at the Unitarian Universalist Church of St. Petersburg to Williams Park in St. Petersburg, where we held a Homeless Memorial Service in conjunction with National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. At the service, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman read a proclamation declaring December 18 as Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day in the city. Other speakers included Councilwoman Amy Foster; Presidents of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance Rev. J. C. Pritchett, and homeless activist Rev. G. W. Rolle. The service began with music by Jamie Schmidt of Bridgepoint Church and ended with a reading of the 52 recorded names of people who died on Pinellas County streets in 2020 and “Amazing Grace” played on bagpipes. Following the service, we served our Friday night bagged to-go dinner with hot chocolate and handed out blankets to 160 people.
We’ve been serving at two locations for 37 weeks now, during the pandemic, and have worked out ways to do so according to CDC guidelines.
If you have other questions, reply to this e-mail or contact me at (727) 492-1590.
Below you’ll find info. on the following:
* In week 37 of serving during pandemic, we served 90+ people at both meals
* New kitchen renovations are underway!
* Specific needs during the renovation; people and groups making food at home
* Donation information and volunteer schedule
Before the pandemic, we typically served 50-60 people at breakfast and at dinner. Last weekend we served over 90 people at each meal. At the end of November, we served a quiche breakfast to a record 120 people.
Amidst all this need, we have very good news: because of our work helping people who are especially suffering from the pandemic, Celebrate Outreach has received a grant to fully renovate the kitchen at Praise the Lord Outreach Ministries, the church from which we serve Saturday Breakfast and Sunday Dinner. The grant includes money for enlarging the kitchen area and purchasing new sinks and a new stove.
These renovations will revolutionize our ability to serve. Not only will the stove be a huge help, sinks will also make our work much easier. Currently, we wash and sanitize pots and utensils in tubs of heated water on tables in the middle of the serving hall.
The renovation is now underway, which means we will need extra help until the kitchen is finished. Here are some people who have helped by preparing food off-site:
The main course of the breakfast for 120 at the end of November was supplied by Vickie Foster and her Quiche Crew, who supply the quiches for breakfast the last Saturday of every month. While always a vital (and delicious!) addition to our monthly menu, the quiches are even more important during the renovations.
On Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons, we assemble the meals with on-site volunteers. We continue to provide a main course, side, fruit, dessert, and a beverage, with a sandwich and hard-boiled egg for later in each meal bag.
To clear the space for the new kitchen and appliances, we had to move everything, including the shelves and the items on them, out of the back room to the front hall and cover everything during construction to avoid dust. We uncover them to assemble the meals.
The kitchen renovation is very exciting, but it also presents challenges. Here is the help we will need, especially in the next few weeks of construction:
1.) We need people to prepare food at home. With our regular kitchen resources gone for now, we especially need people and groups to prep and cook at home. Making sandwiches, cooking breakfast casseroles, and prepping veggies are just a few options. Please call our chef Mary at (727) 397-6107 for information and ideas.
2.) We need on-site volunteers. The schedule is below. The challenges of working only in the front room, getting our water from a hose, and lacking a kitchen sink makes our job more complex than usual. We can especially use people to help clean up, starting about 8:30 AM at breakfast and 5:30 PM at dinner. Call John at (727) 894-2832 or reply to this e-mail.
3.) Financial support. Information on how to donate is below.
Here are some ways other people and groups are helping us with off-site food preparation:
Paradise Lutheran Church provides 100+ bagged lunches on the second Saturday of every month, delivered here by Ken and Sandy Upleger. The lunches include a sandwich, salty snack, fruit, dessert, and utensils. They help us save prep time and money. The stickers on each bag add a special touch.
Nachman’s Seafood Market & Smokehouse has helped by smoking donations of meat.
These are just some of the ways to help. Call Mary at (727) 397-6107 for ideas that will fit your ability and time.
Thanks for your funds, your prayers, your donations, your work at home and in groups, and your work on-site. We hope you, your family and your friends are staying safe and have a good holiday season.
* If you can help with funds, donate on the Celebrate Outreach donations page https://www.paypal.com/donate, or mail a check made payable to Celebrate Outreach to 100 Mirror Lake Dr. N., St. Petersburg FL 33701. In the memo line write “meals.”
* Ongoing financial support is extremely helpful for our planning. If you or a group would like to fund a monthly meal, or provide funds for a specific food or regular expenses, John@celebrateoutreach.org or (727) 894-2832 for a list of regular needs.
Both meals are served in the fellowship hall of Praise the Lord Outreach Ministries, Facebook PTL Ministries, a church at 900C MLK/9th Street South.
7AM – 10:30AM
7AM – 9:00: sanitize, set up tables & supplies, make & serve coffee, pack & serve meal
8:30 – 9:30 : breakfast served
8:30-10:30: final meal prep, wash pots, clean up, prepare space for Sunday dinner
4pm – 7:30 PM
4PM – 6:00: sanitize, set up, pack & serve meal & beverage
5:30-6:30: dinner served
5:30-7:30: clean up meal, put away supplies, mop, put away tables
– Everyone wears masks!!
– The kitchen, hall area, bathroom & common surfaces (knobs, etc) are sanitized before work begins & during the work time. – – Everyone WASHES hands upon arrival (not just hand sanitizer)
– Everyone uses paper towels to turn off water and open and close doors
– Everyone frequently stops to sanitize their gloves using the sanitizing cloths provided
– Designated work stations in the dining hall are set up in such a way that we can maintain social distancing
– There are labeled stations so everyone knows what goes where
– A pot washing procedure with 5 stations (pre-scrub, wash, rinse, sanitize, drying table) is used
From John Stewart, VP of Celebrate Outreach: