After more than a year of providing our neighbors with daily nutritious meals at Dorothy’s Place, while implementing and practicing our COVID Safety Policies, we are taking time to reflect. I am extremely proud of our Team, both staff and volunteers, who kept our programs going every day.
Following is an account by our Kitchen Program Manager, Julieta Borges, on how we coped during the past year – with the loss of volunteers, closing the dining room and serving meals at the door – while operating a fully functioning program and while wearing masks, being distanced, and keeping everyone safe.
“We had to revamp our entire set-up: serving, sanitation, and procedures,” said Julieta, “We lost all our volunteers and our cook at the start of the pandemic. We stopped serving in the dining room because dining inside in all facilities, including restaurants, was prohibited. So, we began serving meals at the door. We installed sinks outside so people can wash their hands before eating. We still haven’t opened the dining room so our guests continue to receive their meals while standing outside on the sidewalk. Everyone is understanding and grateful to Dorothy’s for continuing to provide hot, nutritious meals. “I was cooking for the first few weeks until Dorothy’s Place received a COVID grant that allowed us to hire Norberto Silva, our cook. He is an experienced restaurant cook who was laid off when everything shut down. We are fortunate and grateful to have him.”
“In my 20 years working in restaurants, in some of the most beautiful places,” says Norbeto, “I found that working at Dorothy’s Place this past year has been one of the best, and most fulfilling experiences. Chinatown is a difficult place to be but the staff, the people, and particularly the management – Nic Bianchi, our Kitchen Program Director, and Julieta Borges, the Kitchen Manager, have made this year rewarding for me.” me
Julieta Continues, “With the grant funding we were also able to hire three temporary staff who helped us with the tasks the volunteers would usually do.
“Because of the immediate shut down, our regular donations of food stopped overnight. Donations of bread, potatoes and other vegetables, meats, and fruit – all suddenly stopped. Everyone was affected by the pandemic.
“Throughout the past year some people have continued to drop off items such as paper products, napkins and plastic utensils. Donations are beginning to be more regular now. We are fortunate to have a generous community that supports Dorothy’s Place. All our staff have been crossed-trained. If we need to wash dishes, we wash dishes. If the floor needs to be swept, we sweep.
“The good thing about this past year is that none of our staff or volunteers became ill. Recently, some of our volunteers have returned, and we have hired new staff. I continued to work all year because I couldn’t imagine not being here and making sure the meals continued.”
We appreciate and treasure the kindness and generosity of our donors, especially during the times when things seemed bleak and we didn’t know if our community and our world would overcome the virus. I am encouraged now to see hopeful times ahead as we continue our mission of service toward health, safety, and offering a path out of homelessness and toward permanent housing for those we serve.