Volunteer and charity club serves food at homeless shelter
Volunteer and Charity Club students demonstrated their club’s ideology by spending their weekend wearing plastic aprons and gloves while serving food in the Casa Esperanza Homeless Shelter kitchen.
The kitchen was filled with students who worked under multi-talented cook Lorenzo Martinez from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 20 and 21.
“The compliments that we get make us feel really good. They love our cooking,” said part-time cook Lorenzo Martinez. “Right here at Casa Esperanza, we probably serve the best meal in Santa Barbara.”
Most of the volunteers were Chinese students who spoke little English, but actions speak louder than words. Despite sarcasm from some homeless people, these students continued to serve with smiling faces.
Martinez said the students are very helpful because they give him a chance to focus on his recipes.
“Especially today,” he said. “I got here at 6:30 in the morning. There were no cut onions. There were no bell peppers. It took me like two hours to prepare before I actually started cooking.”
Luckily, City College student-volunteers came in, prepared to follow the cook’s command.
Lunch started at 11:00 a.m. A few students followed Cordero to the serving area where they handed out egg sandwiches, cookies, apples, bananas, salad boxes and water to the homeless.
“It’s the best salad I’ve ever eaten,” said a homeless man John, 29, who requested that his last name not be printed.
The center serves approximately 150 people at lunch and 100 at dinner. Only those living in the facility are allowed to have supper. For many, their lunches were food for the whole day.
In the kitchen, the rest of the volunteers continued helping with dinner dishes, which were served at 6 p.m.
“It’s meaningful that I can help people,” volunteer Peirong Xie said as she peeled onions.
Leading City College’s volunteers on Saturday, club member Xing Ji said his favorite task is cutting potatoes.
For Saturday supper, Martinez decided to cook Chicken Adobo, sautéed vegetables and oven brown potatoes; a complete meal of protein, starch and vegetables, he explained.
Martinez said he’s quite spontaneous and creative with his recipes.
“Like an artist, you can see how it’s going to look in the end product,” Martinez said to the volunteers. “You know how it’s going to taste.”
He surprised the whole kitchen with his anecdotes and talents. Martinez also works at Catholics Charities as a food program coordinator and at Pascucci Restaurant and bar as a musician. He plays congas, bongos, timbales, hand percussions, marimbas, vibes and saxophones.
Volunteer cook Edmundo Diaz also worked with Martinez and the students in the kitchen. Old and new students rotated in and out of the kitchen as Diaz welcomed them with guacamole.
With enthusiasm and kind hearts, international students and chefs rocked the kitchen that served the homeless of Santa Barbara.