During the dedication of the new Trinity Café facility Tuesday in Tampa, Rabbi Richard J. Birnholz spoke of the notion that God’s creation is incomplete and humans are charged with repairing it.
That, as he aptly said, is precisely what Trinity Café does every day, offering food, fellowship and respect to the needy.
The operation was started in 2001 by businessmen Jeffrey Darrey and Bob Mullen with a simple goal: Feed the hungry.
But they wanted something different from the familiar soup kitchen. As important as providing nourishment was recognizing the dignity of each “guest.”
So, Trinity Café’s lunchtime meals are prepared by accomplished chef Alfred Astl — who’s been with the effort from the start. Volunteers not only bring the meals to the diners’ tables, but sit and visit.
The guests range from the chronic homeless to victims of the recession who never expected to be in need of a meal. They are all treated as friends. Lunchtime at Trinity Café is an affirmation of humanity.
The effort has grown steadily, moving from St. Peter Claver Church on Nebraska Avenue to the Salvation Army building on Florida Avenue, and now to a renovated building on Nebraska, which has a restaurant-quality kitchen and more dining space.
Trinity serves more than 200 meals a day and has fed more than 850,000 people since it opened its doors.
Some neighbors did not want Trinity nearby. Their concerns are understandable. But Trinity’s mission is vital, and it is difficult to think of a more appropriate location than a commercial lot on a major road near downtown, where its renovated building is one of the most attractive. Trinity Café officials promise to be good neighbors, and its history shows they keep their word.
Trinity Café, in its modest way, is indeed working to repair the world.