YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – After a week of turmoil at the St. Vincent de Paul Society, President Brian Antal says that the downtown dining hall will reopen Monday at 10:45 a.m. under new management.
The new manager is Wayne Murray, who serves through the Open Arms Outreach Community Program.
“He’s familiar with our program, what we do down there, and more importantly, has a huge heart. A willingness to serve the poor,” Antal said.
Antal says the board is revisiting the policies that lead to the split in the organization and left some people looking for food.
The dining hall’s previous manager, Skip Barone, quit on Friday, and the hall closed Monday.
Since the hall was closed, volunteers passed out lunches outside to those who would normally eat at the dining hall. Barone was among the volunteers.
“I been praying, and I asked the Lord to open another door,” said Dan Cantley, who visits St. Vincent de Paul for food.
Second Harvest Food Bank Executive Director Mike Iberis, who was among the volunteers Wednesday, had this to say about the closure: “People are not able to access the most necessary of things, which is food, and it’s unfortunate that that is not the priority of the leadership of St. Vincent de Paul.
Iberis blamed the closure on leadership’s “mismanagement” and “lack of compassion.”
Antal addressed the criticism from volunteers unhappy with the leadership and policies.
“You have to have rules and not everybody likes rules, but no matter where we work, you have your rules at work, and I have mine at my real job,” he said. “We have to follow them.”
St. Vincent de Paul is run by a board of directors made up of representatives of churches that have St. Vincent de Paul Societies. The rules are approved by the boards through a vote.
Antal says two people get paid: the dining room and food pantry managers. All others are volunteers.
“But myself, I don’t get paid,” he said. “I’m not like these other gentlemen who make $70,000 and $80,000 a year to run charities. We do it out of the goodness of our heart.”
Wednesday’s impromptu giveaway was not a one-time event. Volunteers said they’ll be back every day during the week until the kitchen reopens.
In the meantime, organizations such as the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley say they are ready to step in.
The Rescue Mission stopped serving lunch in October but said, if someone comes to the Mission, they will be fed.
“We’re still open for breakfast and dinner, so anybody can have breakfast and dinner anytime here in the Valley,” said Jim Echement, executive director of the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley.
The Salvation Army on Glenwood Avenue serves lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.