SALT LAKE CITY — For more than 35 years the Good Samaritan Program of the Cathedral of the Madeleine has been offering sack lunches and clothing to the homeless and less fortunate in the community. The program is staffed almost entirely by volunteers.
For all those years, the program functioned on the cathedral’s grounds, but beginning in October the program will move to a new location.
“The program has simply outgrown the current space it occupies,” said Darren Williams, director of the Good Samaritan program, about the decision to move to the St. Vincent de Paul Center in Salt Lake City, where Catholic Community Services operates a dining hall and a resource center for the homeless.
At the new location, Good Samaritan clients will have other resources available, such as hot showers, help finding employment and personal care management, Williams said.
Through the years the program has evolved so the relocation is for the better, Williams said.
Cece Holt, a cathedral parishioner and a longtime Good Samaritan volunteer, recalled the program’s early days.
“We used to take Communion to a parishioner whose neighbor would get sandwiches daily. When her neighbor was away, she asked us to bring her a sandwich from Good Samaritan on Sunday. I told her I would make her a lunch, but she wanted a Good Samaritan lunch,” Holt said.
Originally, the program operated out of the cathedral rectory seven days a week, 12 hours each day. Then, in 2009, it moved into the gray house on the corner of C Street and South Temple. There the program operated from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.
“At the new location, we will operate Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and then from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.,” Williams said. “On Sundays we will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. We will adjust the hours as necessary based on need, but the first step is to actually get the program moved and start anew.”
With the relocation to the Saint Vincent de Paul Dining Hall, the Good Samaritan program will remain a mission of the Cathedral of the Madeleine, said Fr. Martin Diaz, the cathedral rector. It will have its own space; the sack lunches will be distributed through a window that faces 200 South, he said.
The relocation of the Good Samaritan Program coincides with the completion of the renovation of the kitchen at the St. Vincent de Paul Center.
“The opportunity to move into an industrial facility which is designed to handle the scope and volume of what we undertake each day at the program is something I have long wished for,” Williams said.
The Good Samaritan Program will continue accepting the help of volunteers.
“As for the Good Samaritan’s ever-vital volunteer team, most of its members have opted to move with the program to its new location and are excited to be a part of this new chapter of the program’s evolution,” said Williams, adding that the program will continue to serve as a symbol of everyday people who want to make a difference in the world.
“I’m here because I’m supposed to be,” said Diane Robinson, one of the volunteers. “When you’re at the sack-lunch window, you can see that humanity needs help. I’d like to think that by bringing positivity to the window, it helps lift the guys up outside.”
The Good Samaritan volunteers will continue trying to make the world a better place to be “one sack lunch at a time,” Williams said.