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July 23, 2013 > Centerville Free Dining Room celebrates 25th anniversary

Centerville Free Dining Room celebrates 25th anniversary

By Katrina Cherk

The Centerville Free Dining Room (CFDR) will be celebrating its 25th anniversary on Thursday, July 25 with a special dinner in commemoration of its volunteers' hard work and dedication.

The idea of the Free Dining Room was first introduced in March 1988 when thirteen people, representing five different churches, assessed the need to feed homeless and below-poverty residents of Fremont, Newark, and Union City. For four months, deacons of the Centerville Presbyterian Church worked to establish the program, and by July 1988, it was finally accomplished. They planned to serve one meal each week.

Since its opening, CFDR has grown to become a valuable part of the community, serving hot, nutritious, and wholesome dinners to 150-300 people every Tuesday and Thursday. CFDR is open to everyone: adults, children, homeless or unemployed individuals, and veterans. Aside from offering meals, CFDR provides a multitude of services for diners. A Health Van is available every Tuesday and Thursday providing medical and dental help and referrals. Furthermore, canned goods, clothing, and items that cannot be purchased with food stamps, such as soap, shampoo, and toilet paper are available. Showers and counseling are also provided every Tuesday and Thursday.

None of this would be possible without contributions of approximately 300 volunteers, seven organizations, 25 businesses, and 35 churches. This group of dedicated individuals works tirelessly to deliver food, cook, serve, wait tables, and wash dishes. CFDR does not employ a paid staff; it is run entirely by volunteers and receives no government funding.

One of the foremost volunteers is Arminta King, a founder and current Dining Room Director and Volunteer Coordinator. She coordinates food purchases organizational requirements and dinner service including creation of each night's menu. "[The most rewarding part of my job] is seeing people happy, comfortable, feeling that someone cares about them, and knowing that we are doing what the Bible tells us to do," King says.

If you are interested in volunteering, please call Arminta King (Dining Room Director/Volunteer Coordinator) at (510) 793-9063 or (510) 790-3438. You can also donate to the program by calling (510) 796-9302. The Centerville Free Dining Room is located at 4360 Central Avenue in Fremont.

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