Every Tuesday and Thursday, the volunteers at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church open their pantry to the community members of Santa Cruz. On the day of my visit, I witnessed how much of a loving and generous community Star of the Sea is. As I spoke with Mary Wells, Vice President of the organization, I learned of the different ways they try to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere for their clients.
After clients sign in, they are given a number and are invited into their hospitality area, where light refreshments are offered while they wait. When the client’s number is called, he or she is paired with a volunteer that helps the client fill his or her bag with the items the client requests as they walk through the pantry together. While observing this unique process, I noticed that it created a personable and warming atmosphere that empowered the clients and allowed the clients and volunteers to create relationships with one another.
On this particular day, the registration desk included information about CalFresh and an announcement for an upcoming job fair. In addition to providing nutrient dense meals and warm friendships, Star of the Sea also offers resources and information that maybe useful for their clients.
As a result of the dedication and whole hearted nature of the volunteers at Star of the Sea, what once started as a small pantry in the storage room, has expanded and is now able to serve over 80 individuals and their families.