(Keywords this Page: Samaritan House Dining Room, Padua Dining Room, Daily Free Meals, Homeless/Low Income, San Mateo & Menlo Park, CA)

Syndicated Commentary
(Actually, this piece is "regional", but we have left it anyway, as an item of interest to all concerned.)

(A Note from your Website guru: Although Jus' Plain Ric's usual syndicated commentaries are generally quite acerbic and scathing, in their denunciation of individuals, agencies and organizations that abuse, injure (in some way, as to health, physical, psychological or otherwise) and mistreat the homeless, we have included on these pages some of his more gentler and complimentary pieces. In the future, however, we may publish some of his more acerbic wit and comments on such individuals and groups, IF we can "clean them up" sufficiently to meet the publishing criteria of this website.)

(A Note from your Website guru: Although the following piece is a bit dated, it still applies today, in that Samaritan House is still operating the Community Dining Rooms, providing free meals to lo/no income people. Note that the west-of-the-freeway dining facility is no longer at the M.L.King Center, but is now at the Westside Church of Christ, 603 Monte Diablo, on the corner of the block next to the King Center.)

  • Copyright 1994 Jus' Plain Ric

    "HEARD ON THE STREET(TradeMark)"
    by Jus' Plain Ric

    Issues of Concern to the Peninsula's Low-Income/Homeless Communities


    A column of responsible and accurate reporting of commentary heard on the street.

    This reporter, with a humanitarian concern for those issues reported, does so report with the intent of "shedding some light" on issues, policies, processes, procedures, and just plain frustrations, that the targeted communities might be experiencing, with the hope that, if anyone or any group is directly or indirectly responsible for those "frustrations" that might be occurring, such responsible persons/group may be inclined to review/examine those particular aspects noted, and accordingly readjust such to enable a more humane environmental existence for those affected.

    Accordingly, in order to guarantee a maximum of accuracy in the reporting of such commentary, and to preclude any pretensions, aggrandisement, etc., on the part of the individuals supplying such information, it shall not be evidenced to such sources that said commentary may be reported/published. Additionally, such commentary may be paraphrased in its reporting. To this extent, of course, your reporter, as an appropriately "undercover" observer, shall be known only as Jus' Plain Ric, herein this column.

    Hello, from Jus' Plain Ric. Well, although this reporter is committed to reporting on comments heard on the street, PRO and CON, I must say that this time I do have quite a bit to say about a place (actually two locations) that is an outstanding resource to the Low-Income/Homeless (LI/H) communities. Therefore the following observations will be mostly PRO, and should be especially interesting to those LI/H persons, single OR head-of-household, who may be desirous of meeting another person of similar and/or compatible means for (at least!) a more psychologically rewarding existence and a shared (or at least companionable) relationship.

    FOCUS: San Mateo Community Kitchens, sponsored by Samaritan House, providing free hot meals daily (except weekends), at the North Shoreview School (east of Highway 101) and at the Martin Luther King Junior Recreation Center (west of Highway 101), both in the city of San Mateo.

    Yes, that's right! A meeting place for lonely people, that is NOT a "body shop", NOT a "bar" (drinking is NOT allowed), but IS a place for LI/H persons to get together, informally, share a meal, and maybe get to know another wonderful "soul", who just happens to be in the same relative economic straits/status as you may be.

    Where there are NO "cliques", clubs, gangs, or otherwise snobbish people (we're all in the same boat, remember?). In fact, the variety and diversity of the people is really amazing. You could meet someone speaking Uzbek, Farsi, Ukrainian, Mandarin, Australian, Mayan, or whatever, from wherever (Oh! La! La! Those Russian women!). Of course, many people come with their families, with kids of 3 months, to the elders of over 80. But then, isn't that what families WERE, in the "olden days" of "extended" families (and relationships). So, if you are looking for the more traditional relationship (or NOT!), it's all here! (Shades of Topol singing "Tra-di-SHUN", from "Fiddler on the Roof!).

    And the conversations are just as casual and informal. People talk a lot about their trials and tribulations, especially their confrontations with welfare/the system/landlords/druggies, etc. But, there IS also a lot of positive people and talk, as well. A twentysomething just got a new job at a Pizza Hut, but still stops by to see old friends. A handsome, matronly woman is still seeking employment, but drops in to eat and revitalize. Of course, the "peanut gallery" is always doing its thing. An Asian gentleman from Hillsborough, struggling to make ends meet, comes by for repast and repartee. A "hacker", who spent his whole government benefits check on a brand new top-of-the-line home computer, and doesn't have much left (plus, he never did learn how to cook!), drops in regularly for the camaraderie. A member of the local chapter of the homeless Doctors network drops by occasionally to discuss quantum physics, philosophy and the price of the computer he can't afford (much less where to put it, even if he had the money, as homelessness does exact certain penalties).

    So, all kinds of people. But, a qualification, as was pointed out at a recent meeting at San Mateo City Hall. Although a few local area homeless persons DO come by regularly, it seems most of the clientele of the Community Kitchens are just the local LI community. The City Hall meeting made the point that a large majority of homeless people do travel in "groups", usually staying at "shelters", at which they then also receive their meals (provided, incidentally, by Samaritan House, although other agencies may also participate). Although whether those travelling homeless groups more or less reside outside the county or not (if they could be considered to have a nominal residence of San Francisco or wherever), the point is that most of the people regularly partaking of the Community Kitchen's amenities are more than likely to be local low/no income people, seeking to make ends meet.

    AND, apparently, looking for someone to converse with, as well. So, although it must be said that Samaritan House IS considering closing, possibly, one of the facilities, there will yet be a place for the LI/H communities to meet. It may not be "Cheers" or "Duffy's Tavern", where the elite meet to eat, but at least you can find some friendly, non-pretentious, down-home people, sharing a meal and some innocuous patter.

    Well, that's it for now. Congratulations TO Samaritan House and the good works they are doing. And, if you are LI/H, and could use a friendly shoulder to commiserate OR rejuvenate upon, as well as a good meal, drop by the San Mateo Community Kitchens. They'll be glad to see you! Meanwhile, I'll be listening for your comments "On the Street".

  • Hello, from 'Jus Plain Ric. Some time ago, I wrote a piece about the Samaritan House Community Dining Room in San Mateo, as a safe, friendly place for low income and homeless folks to meet and enjoy a hot repast. Well, I have another recommendation, to a similar Community Dining Room, that I could almost say exactly the same compliments and attributes about, as I did before for the Samaritan Dining Room. So, I'm going to be a bit more brief than usual, and if you want all the "cheers", check out my previous piece on the Samaritan Dining Room (above).

    FOCUS: This time it is St. Anthony's De Padua Community Dining Room, in Redwood City, at 3500 Middlefield Road (actually in Menlo park), just 2 blocks south of the 5th Avenue intersection on Middlefield Road (for you drivers). For the bus riders, take any mainline El Camino Real bus that stops at 5th Avenue, Redwood City, get off and walk east on 5th Avenue, and just after the railway underpass, take Semicircular Road to the right, to the 5 way intersection with Middlefield Road, and you can't miss it! For those who want to ride the bus to the doorstep, the local 6A route does so.

    What more can I say, I'm not sure. It is a wonderful, large dining hall, seating almost 500, that serves a FREE hot meal 6 days a week, WITH lots of take-out items, produce (fresh fruits and vegetables) and breads. And the daily meal is certainly not skimpy, either, for you big eaters.

    THE TIMES: Mon-Sat, 11 AM to 1PM, is also quite convenient for all you homeless folks out there who are working 2 jobs and going to school at the same time.

    THE PEOPLE: Compared to my previous Samaritan House Dining Room piece, with its large Russian and other immigrant "communities", St. Anthony's, being in a Hispanic neighborhood, has a quite large Hispanic clientele. But, the families, individuals and people are about the same, in their friendliness and camaraderie - one just needs to speak Spanish more fluently and often.

    SO, check it out! You'll be glad you did!

  • For an UPDATED REVIEW of St. Anthony's Dining Room, please check this REVIEW UPDATE.

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    For more links to HOMELESSNESS issues, Click here to go to YAHOO's homelessness links
    For more local San Francisco Bay Area links to HOMELESSNESS issues, Click here to go to the Homeless Online link

    For an outstanding resource for the homeless person, with all kinds of links and services to check out, be sure to Click here to go to Tedrico's Homelessness Pages!

    For another outstanding resource,Click here to go to the Global Homeless Network.

    Email to Website Operator: fatherjeromeusa@fiwd.org

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