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By Elena Macias

The Diocesan Office of Community Services and Outreach in collaboration with the Diocesan Global Solidarity Committee hosted the Good Samaritan Award Ceremony on February 9 to highlight and recognize the good work of those who feed the hungry in the Diocese. At the ceremony, over 45 individuals were honored for their work in food pantries across the diocese.

“I am edified every time I look at people like yourselves,” Bishop Alberto Rojas said during the welcoming remarks. “Every time I also speak to the people working in food pantries or in charities anywhere, I just feel like this is what faith looks like. This is what you call faith in action.”

Charleen King, an honoree from St. Margaret Mary Parish in Chino, has been feeding and tending to the poor in her community for over 30 years. Her journey into becoming a Good Samaritan began when she, a Catholic, and her late husband, David King, a protestant, founded Isaiah’s Rock, a protestant church run out of their own home with a mission for providing sustenance and help for the poor and homeless. It all started with their response to God’s calling to take care of their neighbors and they have been able to provide weekly warm meals, daily necessities, and laundry services.
“30 years ago, there were a lot of people [in the community] that were immigrants, there were a lot of guys working out in the strawberry fields and that’s where it started, helping them out, feeding them, loving your neighbor as yourself” King said. “[There are still] people all over the front porch [to get services], people sleeping in the house sometimes.”

The Good Samaritan Award Ceremony included a lunch and video presentation of the diocesan food pantries in action. After the video presentation, Father Tyler Tripp, JCL, Defender of the Bond in the Diocesan Office of Canonical Services, provided a keynote speech to the volunteers.

“In a world where many are left stranded on the roadside of life, your commitment to serving the marginalized echoes the call of Jesus to persevere in love and restore dignity to the suffering,” Father Tripp said. “Your work at the food pantry is a testament to your unwavering dedication to building a society that is truly worthy of the name, a society where no one is left behind.”

For some of the volunteers, their long journey of feeding the hungry began from just wanting to find a way to give back, like Bruce Humpert, director of the food pantry at Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in San Bernardino.

“I started out just like everyone, just wanted to help out somewhere and… I said, ‘well there’s got to be more that I can do here,’” Humpert said. “I just like helping people, being useful, I’m retired right now, I’ve been retired for almost seven years and with my hobbies, like music and woodworking, I just wanted a way to give back.”

During the Awards Ceremony portion of the evening, all the honorees were called up and presented with a special certificate of recognition by Bishop Rojas and the Diocese of San Bernardino. The honorees are:

Svlvia Angel, Queen of Angels, Riverside
Blanca Bello, Queen of Angels, Riverside
James & Theresa Briscoe, St. Peter & St. Paul, Alta Loma
Maria Brown, Sacred Heart, Rancho Cucamonga
Abelina Cabrera, Queen of Angels, Riverside
Leonard Diaz, Sacred Heart, Jurupa Valley
Jim Dennehy, St. Theresa, Palm Springs
Anne Dutrey, Our Lady of Lourdes, Montclair
Lot Espino, St. Theresa, Palm Springs
John & Debra Huegel, Our Lady of the Desert, Apple Valley
Henry and Ana Gonzalez, St. Bernardine, San Bernardino
Bruce Humpert, Our Lady of the Assumption, San Bernardino
John & Alice Jakositz, St. Mary Magdalene, Corona
Charleen King, St. Margaret Mary, Chino
Larry & Susan Kolbeck, Holy Family, Hesperia
Aide Landeros, St. John XXIII, Fontana
Robert Lucero, St. Catherine of Alexandria, Riverside
Deacon Armando Luevano, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Banning
Alex Martinez, St. Joseph the Worker, Loma Linda
Mary Martinez, Sacred Heart, Jurupa Valley
Eillien & Melvin Mendez, St. Bernardine, San Bernardino
Maria & David Nunez St. Paul the Apostle, Chino Hills
Ruben Ortiz, Our Lady of Lourdes, Montclair
Gabbv Otwell, St. Mel, Norco
Angelina & Arturo Padilla, Our Lady of Lourdes, Montclair
Gregg Pilcher, St. Joseph, Big Bear
Carol Ray, St. Adelaide, Highland
Susanna Resindez, Christ the Good Shepherd, Adelanto
Leobardo Rivera, Our Lady of Lourdes, Montclair
Louis Rivera, Holy Family, Hesperia
Eloy Sanchez, Immaculate Conception, Colton
Nancy Salgado, Our Lady of the Assumption, San Bernardino
Steve & Mary Schubert, St. James the Less, Perris
Sue Spagna, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Riverside
Al Trevisan, St. Catherine of Alexandria, Temecula
Bob Valdillez, St. Catherine of Alexandria, Temecula
Miguel Enrique Villagran, St. George, Fontana

Like Charleen King, Eloy Sanchez, Coordinator of the Dinner Hour Ministry at Immaculate Conception Parish in Colton, has spent the last 34 years dedicating his life to feeding the hungry in his community.

“Every second Thursday of the month, we give out [food from the] USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) to 336 families, and every Wednesday we give out donated food from different stores,” Sanchez said. The donated food comes from stores like Albertsons, Costco, Sam’s Club and Stater Bros. Sanchez says they provide more than 1,700 heads of households with enough food and produce to last their families for about a week. “We do that every week, two years ago we served over 1 million families from [food provided by] the USDA.”

Over the past three decades, Sanchez said he has witnessed a lot of changes and added that the COVID-19 pandemic was the only time he had to close the kitchen in the parish’s hall and could no longer serve freshly prepared dinners. However, he and the team of volunteers did not let this keep them from giving out food to people in need by creating a safe distribution plan.

“We don’t turn anybody away because we figured these people are all God’s children,” Sanchez said. “If I didn’t have all these volunteers, we probably have about 30 helpers that go [every week] and help,” Sanchez said. “Through the years, there have been thousands that have come out to help. [This award] is great, but I feel, to tell you the truth, all the people that volunteer, they’re the ones who should get it.”

The Diocese thanks all the honorees and volunteers who tirelessly help feed the hungry in our communities and provide a living example of the Good Samaritan.

“It is really an honor for me to be a part of this and to see all of you people who dedicate your lives to be able to make a difference,” Bishop Rojas said. “I congratulate each and every one of you and you are recognized today. Thank you for giving us this beautiful example because again, it really edifies me. I think you also help to edify other people and encourage other people to live their faith.”

Elena Macias is the Managing Editor of the Inland Catholic BYTE.