During the winter months, when others may be sleeping, Frank Schiro gets up to cook breakfast for the homeless population at Bridge to Home.
He’s been doing this for about 20 years, at first by himself, but gradually with more volunteers.
The first year the shelter opened, Schiro realized there was a need and that homeless clients weren’t getting breakfast, so he started taking money out of his own pocket to buy groceries.
Initially, there were only around 25 people at the shelter on those Saturday mornings, he said. Then it started growing. Now there are about 60 people there for a meal.
The number of volunteers has also grown. Altogether, the 12-15 regular people serving with Frank are known as “The Breakfast Club.”
The coalition of community members, from friends, children and church goers to others, makes sure that the residents of Bridge to Home get fed.
On average, they each spend about $30-$40 per person to cook for the people of the shelter, Schiro said. The nickname came about when one of the people they were serving suggested it.
Now, from October to March, everyone cooks with the electric skillets and utensils they take home for their own cleanup.
“We cook everything you could imagine,” Schiro said. “From eggs Benedict to Mexican burritos — there will be a meat like bacon, ham or sausage, a potato dish, etc. We do a variety of about four things each week.”
In the off season when the shelter is not formally open, the Breakfast Club also cooks for the shelter’s Foot and Hair Clinic clients every other Saturday. Schiro tries to help bring in donations so the shelter can build a year-round facility. Fundraisers such as the Cowboy Breakfast help.
Although closed now, the shelter reopens from 6 to 9 p.m. for its dinnertime “Feeding it Forward” program in the off season. It is still open for lunches and for people to come for rapid rehousing resources and connections with partner agencies, said Chris Najarro, Bridge to Home director of programs. It also has year-round case management that connects with existing housing resources.
The year-round shelter capital campaign does not have a start date yet.