The story of the Good Samaritan is as old as recorded history. The fact that anyone could find themselves in the need of help from strangers is central. Many in Onondaga County have experienced this in winter on a snowy roadside. The help of a stranger is a great comfort.
The Samaritan Center (TSC) in Syracuse is set up for this very type of interaction with a hot meal at its core. The way it works is anyone in need of a hot meal can swing on down the alley behind St. Paul's Church (310) Montgomery Street seven days a week.
There is one meal each afternoon with the addition of breakfast now available on Thursday mornings. It is anonymous, and there are no preconditions to attending. No one knows why a guest is there unless they choose to divulge.
People come for many reasons, which include inadequate disability payments, crippling mental illness and runaway substance abuse.
The Samaritan Community
At TSC there is a community within the community. One that opened its doors 27 years ago when Unity Kitchen changed its operation from an open house for all to a closed population. Seven area churches pooled their resources. It started with a brown bag lunch.
A lot of people put their hard work and heart in TSC until 10 years ago when it was decided they needed to step up the level of organization to create a more streamlined operating structure. This included outside fund raising to insure the continuation of this much-needed service.
There is a director who oversees the operation and its place within the community, a fund-raiser, two kitchen managers, a volunteer coordinator and a slew of volunteers. Often the guests will become volunteers, or volunteer their efforts whenever possible.
Meet Cebrin Jefferson. He is on disability. He came to Syracuse from Utica in search of his father. TSC became central to his family. He not only used its services but also volunteered to help out.