Catholic Charities of the Virgin Islands, Inc., has been providing more than 50 years of service to the less fortunate members of the community, and it recently added a new Soup Kitchen to its outreach program on St. Thomas.
The organization opened the new kitchen in early November at its newly renovated facility at 42 Kronpridsens Gade. The kitchen, which previously operated in Hospital Ground, will now serve meals in a large, accessible dining area, according to executive director Andrea Shillingford.
She said the facility features a state-of-the-art kitchen, as well as office spaces for counseling and supportive services for the homeless. The organization has made a small dent in the island’s homeless with its Home-at-Last program, which provides permanent housing for clients.
Meanwhile, the new kitchen will not have any bearing on the services of Bethlehem House Shelter for the Homeless, according to Charities general manager Alvin Henley.
"We’ve been serving meals for almost 30 years, since 1987,” he said. "The new kitchen doesn’t affect our operation at all.”
"Richard Gomez is our shelter manager, and he takes meals all over the island to communities who can’t get here,” Henley said.
Both Henley and Gomez, who have been at the shelter for years, are dedicated to the people who live there, a population of about 30 normally.
"We work with a small staff of eight,” he said. "Three cooks plus Gomez, and a security staff at night. We serve a hot meal at night, and what you’d call a continental breakfast.”
Henley takes pride in the shelter’s Health Clinic.
"The doctors donate their time once a month. Now, we even have dental and orthopedic care. The doctors enjoy donating their time, they get to know the people and see their needs.”
Right now, Henley said, they are gearing up for Thanksgiving.
"We don’t serve a Thanksgiving meal on that day because there are so many other organizations serving then. What we do is have Thanksgiving on the Saturday after, and it’s very well-attended. Everyone enjoys that.”
Henley said the Shelter is always happy to accept donations. He can be reached at 340-777-5001.