St. Dominic Neighborhood Café

Bernadine “Bunny” Neal and her niece, Sheila Jones, have a long-standing connection with St. Dominic Parish. Bunny’s father started providing Thanksgiving meals to the underprivileged in the 1970s, and this service has become an essential part of Bunny and Sheila’s life.

In November 2023, St. Dominic distributed almost 450 meal baskets to those in need, thanks to the parish’s and external organizations’ generosity.

In July 2023, the initiative to provide food for the hungry in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood expanded into the St. Dominic Neighborhood Café. This parish ministry serves breakfast and lunch three times a week to people seeking a hot meal and a friendly atmosphere. “We see many of the same faces each week, and so they start to feel like family,” says Bunny. On average, the café serves around 375 people every week, and it hopes to expand its capacity. 

There became a need for a commercial dishwasher to ensure proper cleaning and sanitizing of dishes and cooking utensils to serve more people in the community.  St. Dominic Neighborhood Café was awarded a responsive grant from The Catholic Foundation to purchase a new dishwasher. 

St. Dominic Parish is committed to this ministry and has pledged to provide meals if people keep coming to the door.  Operating the café takes countless hours of coordination and volunteer work.  When asked how she does it all, Bunny replied, “It’s a true labor of love. But at the end of each day, we receive way more than we give.”

Child being handed a book from a woman in a classroom setting.
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“Consider this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 
2 Corinthians 9: 6-7