| Oakland A's pitch in at St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room
Oakland A's owner Lew Wolff took a break from serving in the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room to tell reporters he was hoping his service might inspire other Oakland business leaders to lend a hand.
MICHELE JURICH/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
Inside the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room, the owner of the Oakland A's was dishing up the green — broccoli — on trays that were being handed to guests by his hitting coach.
Outside, Sal Miranda was taking care of the garden, in recycled wood planters and barrels, on the corner of 23rd and San Pablo teeming with tomatoes, collard greens and the rest of the bounty that the chefs inside will add to those plates as summer winds down.
You could say that Miranda is something of a pinch hitter. On this warm September day, he has come by to water the plants and tend the garden. Its usual gardeners, he said, the students who volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul, had returned to classes for the fall. That food is not going to waste. Not on his watch.
In the dining room, Lew Wolff, owner of the A's, was adding greens to the trays that were being handed to guests by Chili Davis, a former Major League baseball player who was recognized by some of those he was serving.
Those guests were streaming in — St. Vincent de Paul's dining room serves an average of 800 meals a day.
The volunteer corps numbers about 2,000, with about 25 needed for each meal.
The home team, you might say, was being served by the chefs-in-training of St. Vincent de Paul's Kitchen of Champions program, who were deftly rolling braised turkey, rice and beans into tortillas to put healthy burritos on those trays.
Fresh peaches, coleslaw, wheat bread and dessert rounded out the trays.
One guest who didn't seem to be surprised by the presence of so many rookies in A's caps was a man who was wearing one himself. He said he has worked security at the Coliseum over the years.
"On days like this, when we can get the A's to come out, it raises our visibility," said Melanie Diegel, giving and events manager, surveying a crowd that included representatives from television stations, a photographer, a blogger and a reporter.
Stepping past them was Helen Davaran, who has been volunteering on Tuesdays for the past four years. The former director of an ESL program, she was ferrying trays to the family dining room, where disabled and elderly guests, as well as families, are seated.
"You can see we need people year-round," Diegel said.
The volunteers' dedication was not lost on Wolff, who worked alongside his daughter, Kari. "The people who work here are unbelievable," Wolff said.
The purpose of Wolff's visit, his first to St. Vincent de Paul since buying the A's in 2006, was to raise awareness for the need for volunteers — and not just in the last six weeks of the year. He encouraged other business leaders in Oakland to come down and lend a hand.
Wolff has assisted St. Vincent in other ways recently. His $5,000 donation filled 175 backpacks with school supplies, which were distributed to the children of the agency's clients. He also offered up A's tickets for Sept. 19 in exchange for donations to St. Vincent de Paul.
"This is America," said Davis. "People shouldn't be hungry in America."
After a tour of the center, the A's owner stopped on his way out to say thanks and goodbye to a pair of volunteers who had served alongside him that morning: Ken Goode and Fernando Silva, veteran volunteers from St. Joachim parish in Hayward.
"It's the greatest job you can ever have," said Goode, who is in his 13th year of "Tuesday club" volunteering.
• Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (best days: Wednesdays and Fridays)
Help serve meals to clients five days a week. Dining Room volunteers serve food, assist elder and disabled clients, wash dishes and much more.
• Clothing Closet giveaway assistant
Tuesdays and Fridays, 9-11 a.m.
Clients can visit the Clothing Closet once a month and pick out three outfits. Volunteers help clients pick out clothing, bag their choices, and assist in keeping the area organized so it is easy to find clothing.
For more volunteer opportunities: www.svdp-alameda.org
Contra Costa County
• Administrative/office volunteer, food pantry assistance
Weekdays, 9 a.m- 2 p.m.
Greet visitors and clients at the front door, assist in providing emergency food supplies from SVdP Food Pantry, answering questions and directing visitors to the correct staff person, and light administrative duties including shredding, mailing, typing, etc.
• Free Medical Clinic
Wednesdays, 4-8 p.m., Second and fourth Saturdays, 9 a.m.-noon
The RotaCare Pittsburg Free Medical Clinic at St. Vincent de Paul in Pittsburg provides no-cost medical care for uninsured adults. Physicians, pharmacists, registered nurses, social workers, translators, administrators with experience in data input and appointment receptionists. Bilingual volunteers needed. Contact: Katie Messina, email@example.com
More information: www.svdp-cc.org
Friends of the Poor Walk
Oct. 6, 1-4 p.m.
Moreau Catholic High School, 27170 Mission Blvd., Hayward
Sign up or make a pledge: www.svdpusa.net/fop
Contra Costa County:
Sept. 28, 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
St. Isidore Church, grass field, 440 La Gonda Way, Danville
Sign up or make a pledge to sponsor a walker: www.fopwalk.org, Walk No. 222 the Contra Costa Walk
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