YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Four members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society Board and its accounting firm resigned Wednesday night.
The resignations included Vice President Vic Lewis, President Brian Antal, Treasurer Joe Gorman, Secretary Gary Russo and accounting firm Canter and Associates.
Gorman said he was upset by the controversy that had plagued Antal, who formally announced his resignation earlier this month.
“I protest in the most vehement way I can what I have perceived to be the process that forced Brian’s resignation,” he said.
Wednesday was the board’s first meeting since its dining hall in Youngstown closed and then reopened after internal personnel issues, which reached a boiling point after Thanksgiving.
Former dining hall manager Skip Barone resigned on Black Friday, leading to the soup kitchen’s shut down November 30 after several volunteers followed. It reopened a week later — on December, 7 — with a new manager, Wayne Murray.
The next day, Antal announced his resignation, and Wednesday was his last day on the job.
During Wednesday’s meeting, Gorman praised Antal’s leadership, saying that he increased funding to the organization, and by operating it as a business, was able to carry out more of its charity efforts. He said Antal was also a very caring individual.
“Brian Antal was there for me when I became serious ill. Without complaint, he took over and offered me assistance with my treasurer duties,” he said, crying.
There were questions about Antal’s business decisions, however. During the meeting, those in attendance discussed whether there should be a ban on taking food out of the dining hall. One woman said she felt responsible for the controversy, because she suggested the rule after seeing other similar organizations doing the same.
Another woman argued that the needy should be able to bring food home, because it may be all that they have.
Despite some of those in attendance being upset, the overall message was that the board needed to move forward. Suggestions were taken on who could replace those who resigned, and the board wants to begin filling those positions in early January. Some members will stay on during that process.
Murray says, despite recent controversy, he has bright plans for the kitchen’s future.
“We’re going to move up. Things are going to excel,” he said. “We’re going to continue to feed the hungry — what we’re here to do. That’s our purpose.”
He said, for the short time he has taken on his new role, it has been rewarding.
“When you walk through the dining hall and you speak with someone and ask them how they’re doing, you get a smile and a thank you,” he said. “It’s just incredible.”
Murray says he is not going to let what has happened recently affect how he does his job.
“I put it to the side, and do what I was hired to do,” he said.
Meanwhile, former dining hall manager Skip Barone is working with Second Harvest Food Bank to operate a new soup kitchen called Skip’s Cafe. The kitchen is being funded by an anonymous donor.