TODAY THE CAPUCHIN Day Centre held its annual festive feast, serving up a full three course meal to some 500 people.
This is the day that all the staff, volunteers and the people who attend the homeless centre look forward to most. Homemade soup, roast ham and turkey and a selection of delectable deserts were on the menu and the centre’s head chef Ann has been working flat out to make sure everything would run smoothly.
Over the last two days, she and the other staff and volunteers working in the kitchen have been up from early in the morning so everything would be ready to go for the gala today.
When we visited yesterday, the turkeys and hams were cooked and sliced:
The potato croquettes were breaded and ready to be fried:
There were 500 trifles chilling in the fridge:
And just as much ice cream in the freezer…
There were also a few sweets to go along with the after dinner tea and coffee:
Six days a week, the centre serves breakfast and dinner to hundreds of people and provides food packages to over a thousand a week.
Brother Kevin Crowley, who established the service back in the 60s, told TheJournal.ie that around 250 people come for breakfast every morning and staff and volunteers serve dinner to between 450 and 500 every afternoon.
Many of the people attending the centre do so on a regular basis and those providing the service offer more than just a hot meal. Warmth and dignity – two things severely lacking in the everyday lives of many of the people who avail of the service – greet them at the door. As Brother Kevin explains, no questions are asked and nothing is expected in return.
“What is amazing is the numbers of families that come here and it’s very sad to see young children having to come to a place like this but our main concern here is for the welfare of the people who avail of the centre,” Crowley said.
The centre has a separate section for families with toys for children to play with and pictures on the wall to make it colourful and welcoming:
Each year, the demand for the services the Capuchin Day Centre provides has been increasing and has doubled since 2008, though the level of funding it receives from the government has remained the same, Crowley told TheJournal.ie in an interview.
The poor and the marginalised are the people who can and always will be more or less forgotten by society.
Today they were not forgotten and when the doors opened at 1pm, the normal buffet set-up was abandoned with volunteers serving the 500 diners at their tables like in a restaurant to make the day extra special and a live band providing entertainment.
Crowley said none of this would be possible without the “kindness and generosity” of the public who have continued to donate to the centre every year, all throughout the recession.
“We have never run short of food and we never went short of money,” he added. “The people are fantastic”.
All images and video © Michelle Hennessy/TheJournal.ie.