Because of the actions of two Paz de Cristo Community Center employees and the quick response of Mesa and Tempe fire departments, the facility that serves as a food bank, social services center and dining hall for the homeless and working poor was spared major damage when flames broke out last week.
The fire, which broke out in a pile of blankets stored near the center’s Mesa facility at around 6:40 a.m. last Wednesday, did, however, break its way into the ducts, rendering unusable a kitchen that serves about 200 meals each night.
As center works on what could be weeks of repairs, and awaits the county’s approval to resume preparing meals in-house, it has been able to continue its nightly service thanks to the generosity of restaurants and businesses catering their own food or purchasing it for the center.
“We’ve been very fortunate that we’ve gotten lots of donations,” Paz de Cristo Director Arlen Westling said.
According to a news release from the facility, those donations are expected to continue until at least Friday. But the kitchen won’t be open by then.
Westling said the center, still needs to ensure meals continue the entire time.
“It’ll probably be another couple of weeks, so I’m still looking for volunteers to come up with about 200 meals a night,” Westling said. “We’ve had a great response from the community.”
He also said the public can help the center with cash donations — unprepared food donations, like canned food, won’t be useful because the closure of the kitchen leaves no place for meals to be prepared or cooked. In fact, with prepared food, even fewer volunteers are needed, so the center is asking for only about half of its normal 20 volunteers per service, Westling said.
“We can do a meal for 200 people for 300 to 600 bucks a night,” Westling said.
To donate, visit the center’s website at pazdecristo.org or call (480) 464-2370. Donations can also be sent or dropped off at the center, located at 424 W. Broadway Road, Mesa, 85210.
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