Behind a Free Lunch
By Mika Ono
The lunch line, composed of homeless residents of St. Vincent
de Paul Village, started to grow around 11 AM. Bustling around
the kitchen were a dozen volunteers from ScrippsAssists, the
volunteer group composed of employees from The Scripps Research
Institute (TSRI), Scripps Green Hospital, and Scripps Clinic.
On the menu that day was pizzacheese, pepperoni, or
"everything"chicken soup, and salad. Kids' meals also
included milk, and chocolate or vanilla pudding.
For a busy hour and a quarter, ScrippsAssists volunteers
took orders, ladled soup, assembled trays, and replenished
supplies for the 600 or so men, women, and children, who were
taking advantage of the one free meal a day served there.
"I started volunteering at St. Vincent's because I wanted
to help," says Linda Soo Hoo, a research technician in the
Chan lab who has been organizing the ScrippsAssists lunch
brigade for the past year. "I got angry when I watched the
news and wanted to do something about it."
Soo Hoo and other volunteersa group usually made up
about equally of returning participants and first-timersmeet
about once a month at 10 AM in the lobby of St. Vincent de
Paul, located downtown on Imperial Avenue. Volunteers don
blue "ScrippsAssists" t-shirts and orange volunteer badges
in the lobby, then gloves and hair nets before they go to
work in the kitchen.
After the kitchen window closes at lunch hour's end, volunteers
clean up and are welcome to help themselves to lunch (which
they attest is usually pretty tasty).
Cheryl Lloyd, administrative assistant in the Schultz lab,
volunteered in the kitchen for the first time last month,
bringing her 10-year-old son, Christopher. "The experience
was very rewarding," she says. "It made Christopher appreciate
what he has, especially seeing kids younger than himself [at
the homeless residence]. A lot of the people there were very
grateful and appreciative... I definitely plan on doing it
Ellen Klahn, administrative assistant in the Burton lab,
is a regular in the group. She also began volunteering as
a family activitybut initiated by her daughter, who
needed to fulfill a community service requirement for a high
school class. "I have continued volunteering to recognize
how fortunate I am," she says, "and to make life a little
easier for someone else. There are wonderful people who happen
to be homeless. They just need a little help to get on their
St. Vincent de Paul Village provides access to integrated
and comprehensive services designed to meet its clients' immediate
and future needs. In addition to the free lunch, the organization
provides adult education, counseling, medical/dental care,
children's services, and job training.
For more information about volunteering at St. Vincent de
Paul Village or organizing this group when Soo Hoo leaves
for graduate school in the fall, contact Soo Hoo, x4-9586
or e-mail email@example.com.
For more information about ScrippsAssists and the activities
it sponsors, see the ScrippsAssists
website. In addition, the organization's president, Helen
Plutnerwho is currently recruiting members for the ScrippsAssists
Committee to help organize the projects, publicize the group,
and make policy decisionsis available at x4-8257 or
ScrippsAssists volunteers help serve
a free lunch for the homeless. Photo by Mika Ono.