The program, led by OB native and former San Diego Police Department member Jack Hamlin, provides meals for seniors, low income, disabled, and homeless members of the community. The dinners are served by a volunteer staff, and guests can expect to be treated to a delicious, nutritious meal in the parish hall. Their next meal will be their “Day After Christmas Meal,” held on Dec. 26.
Hamlin has been involved in the ministry since 2010, and even learned his cooking skills from Dan Coulon (owner of OB’s beloved Belgian Lion), before Coulon retired as head chef of Feeding the Hungry Ministry.
“One of the things I enjoy most is watching the volunteers grow in the ministry,” says Hamlin. “Young folk who learn how to become more self reliant and learning how to reach out to those who are much different than them. And then, the more mature volunteers, stepping out of their comfort zone and learning how to love and engage in compassion, again.”
Hamlin joyfully explains they experience many success stories from members of the community. “There are those who need our ministry as a stop gap until they can get back on their feet. I will see them at the store, dog park, or around the beach and they have told me how much they appreciated our help,” Hamlin said.
“But there are other types of success. I cannot count the number of folk who are truly damaged emotionally who over time, open up to us. Going from ‘Don’t touch me,’ to initiating something as simple as a handshake or a hug is truly heartwarming.”
The Feeding the Hungry Ministry goes above and beyond just feeding the community. When the hepatitis A outbreak occurred, not only did Sacred Heart immediately enhance their cleaning protocols to limit the chances of exposure to the virus, they partnered up with the County Health Department. The county came and provided more than 100 vaccinations to guests and volunteers and will return in February for a second round of vaccinations.
Hamlin points out that while the program does face some backlash from the community, “Not a single property within two blocks of our ministry has suffered a loss of value in the 11 years we have been in service, contrary to what a handful of people who do not want the ministry to continue believe.”
In March, the program will hit more than a whopping 40,000 meals served, and pantry service provided to 5,000.
To Jack, the parish hall is more than just a hall. He says you hear the words “thank you” more in the hour and a half than you would in an entire year. “The ‘thank you’s’ come from the guests as well as the volunteers. I call the hall, the House of Thank Yous.”
Day After Christmas Meal
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 26.
Where: Sacred Heart Church of Ocean Beach, 4776 Saratoga Ave
Info: If you would like to get involved as a volunteer, visit: sacredheartob.org.