City’s soup kitchen board tabs officers
PAWTUCKET — As a lifelong city resident who spent more than 35 years working his way through the Police Department before his retirement in 2010, former Police Chief George Kelley III says that Pawtucket has been good to him and being a member of the Pawtucket Soup Kitchen Board of Directors is his way of giving back to the city.
Kelley during the board's Jan. 21 meeting was elected as president for 2017. A board member since 2012, Kelley was
past president in 2015 and also served two years as vice president, in 2014 and 2016.
He said that since 2010, the Soup Kitchen has served nearly 200,000 dinners.
“That's what we do,” Kelley said. “We're there for the people. There's obviously a need for it. We see people coming in everyday, morning and afternoon. As long as people need it, we'll be there.”
“That would be the day when everybody can sit down and eat,” without the assistance of the Soup Kitchen “but it doesn't seem like it's happening,” Kelley later said.
Joining Kelley as elected officers on the soup kitchen’s board were Vice President Joseph Keough, Secretary Mary Turillo, Treasurer Monica Santos, and Associate Treasurer Michael Reis. Also during the Jan. 21 board meeting, AtLarge Board members who were elected included Mary Bray, Raymond Gannon, Laureen Grebien, Patricia Martinez, Arthur Martins, Larry Monastesse, and Michael Tamburro.
“We've got a fantastic board,” Kelley said. “Everyone brings something to the table that helps the kitchen … It's with all these people here that we're able to get a lot of things done.”
Kelley succeeds Keough as board president. Keough was president in 2016 but had to take time away after undergoing surgery and upon his return, he felt that Kelley performed so well that he should continue as president.
Keough, a 75-year-old city resident and retired Superior Court judge, said that the soup kitchen in 2016 fed 40,000 people and he expects to exceed that number this year, as the need appears greater than it has been in years past due to the issues that the state is currently facing in providing food stamps to people.
“We've noticed an increase in the number of people coming to the soup kitchen,” he said. “What we're able to offer, the main thing we want to follow through on is that they get fed, if we are able and successful, naturally it's rewarding to do that.”
Keough said that as a retired judge who has been a lifelong Pawtucket resident, being able to assist those less fortunate has been something that fills him with pride.
“It's great to be able to participate and do something like this … This keeps me busy and keeps me involved in the city,” he said.
Soup Kitchen Executive Director Adrienne Marchetti said that she thinks Kelley and Keough are “both excellent, excellent people. They have a lot of experience … I feel we're getting to a really good place.”
“These are all people who have extensive experience in public service and I think this is a good thing for us … We wish them well as they assume their responsibilities and welcome the talents and skills they bring to the board,” Marchetti said.
Kelley said that the Soup Kitchen has a “fantastic director” in Marchetti, saying “she pretty much knows everybody that
comes through the line. She's taken it upon herself to take Spanish lessons, it's just one big family. They need us and we're happy that we can be there to serve them.”
Keough said that he feels that he and Kelley make a “great team,” saying that Kelley has “done such an outstanding job” in the city. As for Marchetti, Keough also called her “outstanding.”
“I don't know how she accomplishes and gets done all that she gets done with the cooking and food preparation,” he said. “She's outstanding. I don't know what we'd do if we lost her. She knows a lot of people who come in and knows them by name, she's just a warm and wonderful person.”
With 2017 representing the 25th year of the Soup Kitchen's existence, Kelley said it will be important to play up the kitchen's history and its role in the city. He said that he wants to “do something special” during the annual dinner in October.
The soup kitchen, located at 195 Walcott St., serves breakfast Monday through Friday from 7:30 to 8 a.m., dinner Monday through Friday from 5 to 5:30 p.m., and brunch on Saturday from 10:30 to 11 a.m. Additionally, through its outreach program, the soup kitchen provides a hot meal daily to all guests of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Homeless Shelter, lunch Monday through Friday to the clients at ACCESS-RI, and collaborates monthly with Holy Family Parish on the Breadline Program.
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