YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Mahoning County St. Vincent de Paul Society President Brian Antal announced Tuesday that he will resign.
According to a resignation letter, Antal ends his position as the local board president on Dec. 16 and will resign as a Society of St. Vincent de Paul National Council member, effective immediately.
In his letter, Antal wrote that he wanted to focus on his family, his health and his career, adding he leaves the society in better shape than when he took over as president four years ago.
The Youngstown branch of the society, which serves food to the poor and homeless, closed on Monday, Nov. 30, after former manager Skip Barone quit on Nov. 27. The society reopened on Monday with the hiring of a new dining hall manager, Wayne Murray, who serves through the Open Arms Outreach Community Program.
Murray said he was surprised by the news.
“I’m in shock. I had no idea this was coming,” he said.
Second Harvest Food Bank Executive Director Mike Iberis criticized the closure last week, saying, “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 previously 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.”
Despite last week’s closing, the dining hall had plenty of help on hand Tuesday, including members of Holy Name Church in Youngstown.
“I also have a group of volunteers from some of the people who have been here, and they continue to support,” Murray said.
In the meantime, it was the last day former manager Skip Barone and others passed out bagged lunches across the street from the dining hall — hoping Antal’s departure will help loosen restrictions on allowing clients to take food away from the soup kitchen.
“The board should consider that, because these people need that meal in the evening,” Barone said. “This is the only food they have, a lot of them.”
Society Board members were unable to be reached on Tuesday, but longtime volunteer Allen Wasylychyn said he hopes the controversy has come to an end with Antal’s departure.
“The society is a good mission for the cause, and hopefully, it will move forward,” he said.