Vacaville’s Epiphany Episcopal Church has been serving free hot meals every Friday night since 2000 and attendance continues to grow, according to Ellen Simonin, a physical therapist at NorthBay Health at Home & Hospice. Each week, organizers expect to serve as many as 325 dinners.
Simonin is very involved in her church and is a regular among the cadre of volunteers who cook, serve and clean up after these hearty meals. “Assisting with these outreach services is a way of meeting people’s needs at the most basic, physical level, because it is difficult for people to pursue a spiritual life when they are hungry or sick,” she says. The volunteer work she does here is not unlike the work she does for NorthBay, where she assists homebound patients as they recover from illness or surgery.
Those who come to Epiphany “include not only the homeless, but the unemployed, working poor, elderly and those just looking for company. The program has earned a reputation among local service agencies and the community for providing a delicious meal in a friendly, caring and non-judgmental atmosphere,” she adds.
Children who accompany their parents can play in a supervised area, and the volunteers will distribute whatever donated food is available at the end of the evening.
Each team of volunteers serves one Friday a month. Ellen’s team is there every second Friday, but you’ll have to look in the kitchen if you want to say hello. “Since I work full-time, I’m on the clean-up crew,” she says.