|Trinity Cafe's Chef Alfred Astl and Program Director Cindy Davis.|
It was a few minutes before the 11:30 a.m. serving time at Trinity, where the homeless and hungry of downtown Tampa can go for lunch on most weekdays.
|"Any time is a good time for pie."|
A seasoned volunteer led a group prayer and then the doors opened for business.
The volunteers worked two per table; one served while the other chatted up the guests. Cindy explained that because the homeless are among society's most shunned, acknowledging them is as important feeding them.
Several years ago Cindy was working for the Tampa Tribune when she read an article about the Trinity Cafe, no ordinary soup kitchen.
She envisioned volunteering there after retirement, which came earlier than expected when she was laid off on a Tuesday in 2009.
"The following Monday I was down here volunteering," she said. Now she's one of two full-time employees, the other being Chef Alfred Astl.
Volunteer Rachel Coleman is the co-founder of High Hopes in High Heels, a networking and volunteering group for young professional women.
Coleman said the group does five to seven charity events a year, including partnering up with the Shriners for their upcoming Glam Jam at the end of July.
The group also does monthly community events, so Rachel and HHinHH member Andrea Balboa took this holiday to volunteer at Trinity.
Rachel also recruited her fiance Frank Luis.
Orlando Gutierrez, 28, is an Air Force veteran who ran supply delivery convoys from post to post throughout Kuwait and Iraq during the current war.
|Orlando on volunteering: "Just paying it forward, as they say."|
"I got out of it and am doing well."
Orlando is currently a full-time student at USF majoring in social work. He's interested in volunteering with transitional housing programs and was told that the Trinity Cafe was a good way to get started.
Trinity Cafe's Cindy Davis said the month of July is almost completely booked with volunteers. "Incredible," she adds, "It wasn't this way when I first started."
They recently went to an online volunteer sign up, which Cindy said is more efficient, prevents overbooking and keeps volunteers coming back.