CLEARWATER - Homelessness isn't going away, especially as job losses pile up during this pandemic. But there's hope for anyone who needs it at a community resource center in Clearwater. St. Vincent de Paul is helping people who've hit bottom, get back on top.
For Pete Scalia, feeding those experiencing homelessness is simple, and I find his story of giving a bit unusual.
Scalia used to manage casinos and, well, casinos take money from you. In retirement, Scalia put all of his chips on a different table.
"So my wife said go do this and keep yourself busy. I came here to cook, cause I like to cook, cooking for 150 people isn't hard for me, I've been around it all my life," Scalia said.
Scalia went to the St. Vincent De Paul Community Kitchen in Clearwater and later became the executive director. He partnered with the city and figured why stop at just feeding people.
"We have 51 people that went through that STARS Program, that are off the street, have a job, and have a roof over their head."
The STARS Program offers job placement assistance.
"We're like, get to the orientation, be sober. The next day when the program starts, be sober! When you do see a real success story, it's remarkable."
Remarkable stories like a young woman who has become a real estate agent, or another who now owns and operates a local salon.
"And she brings all of the people who work in the salon with her on a Saturday they do haircuts all day, she used to be on the street," Pete said.
The 51 people placed in jobs through St. Vincent de Paul's Community Center Scalia estimates has saved the city of Clearwater $1.5 million. The kitchen serves meals every single day. Scalia says the STARS program classes are expected to start back up in October barring any setbacks from the ongoing pandemic.
They're always looking for volunteers and donations, visit their website.