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Holiday Fund: Community resource helps neighbors

 

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Gifts to the Almanac's Holiday Fund benefit St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room.

Donate now.

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Story by Patricia Papalian, a volunteer with St. Anthony Padua Dining Room.

Since 1974 the Dining Room's mission has been to provide a hot, nutritious meal to anyone in need. The rules are simple: no fees, no questions, and no one is turned away.

Six days a week this bustling soup kitchen serves 500 guests a complete hot meal while providing take-home groceries, health services and a free clothing store. The Dining Room is a place of refuge from a harsh world most of us will never know.

Anne is a bright and dynamic woman. As a former business owner, she fondly recalls her storefront on a charming street. The last decade, however, saw her business phase out. "I just couldn't compete with all the e-commerce" she explains. She was finally forced to shut down. Just when she thought things couldn't get worse, Anne suffered a major health crisis.

One year later Anne was unrecognizable, ill and wasting away. She was barely scraping by on government benefits. Crippling financial anxiety, stress about an unknown future, a devastating illness and grueling treatments culminated in sleepless nights and dangerous weight loss.

"It was more than I could bear," she says of this terrible period.

A caring nurse familiar with Anne's situation directed her to St. Anthony's. The free meals and take-home groceries mitigated some of her financial strain while providing the regular nourishment her body desperately needed to recover.

But it was "the kindness and sense of community at St. Anthony's" she says, "that really kept me going."

Today Anne is back in the industry she loved. Though her health-crisis is well behind her, she will never forget the sustenance and stability the Dining Room community gave her in those dark days as she struggled to get well. Now it is Anne, who volunteers at the Dining Room, helping to fortify others who are vulnerable.

The Dining Room serves a hot nutritious meal from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 52 weeks a year. More than 220,000 meals will be served this year.

Go to paduadiningroom.com or call (650) 365-9664 for more information on St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room, located at 3500 Middlefield Road in Menlo Park.

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Gifts to the Almanac's Holiday Fund benefit St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room.

Donate now.

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