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In another sign that the world may be inching back to normalcy, Father Joe’s Villages served its first sit-down meal in about two years Monday.

Almost 500 residents of Father Joe’s Village’s Paul Mirabile Center gathered at the dining hall for a traditional Easter meal that included glazed ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, dinner rolls and an assortment of pies.

“It has been a long two years waiting to bring everyone together once more to share a meal,” said Deacon Jim Vargas, president and CEO of Father Joe’s Villages. “We are blessed that we are able to resume in-person meals in time for Easter. Holiday celebrations like these are more than just warm meals. Easter is ultimately about hope and love: the love for our neighbors and the unconditional love of God.”

Father Joe’s also hosts an annual Thanksgiving meal that attracts hundreds, including clients and homeless people living on the street or in nearby shelters. In past years, people would dine inside and Vargas would greet people in the dining hall, leading a prayer before meals were served. Because of the pandemic, Vargas instead appeared on an upstairs balcony to address people lined up in the courtyard to pick up a wrapped meal to carry out.

On Monday, people sat at tables and waited as meals were delivered to them, restaurant style. To-go meals were provided to people who are not residents of the Paul Mirabile Center.

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People who had eaten in the dining hall before the shutdown likely noticed many improvements to the room, thanks to a $35,000 from the Ellen Browning Scripps Foundation and additional support from the Hope Lives Here Campaign.

The remodel included new flooring, the removal of drop ceilings and installation of new higher ceilings, new paint, wood slats along serving walls, new windows throughout the room, new lighting for the room and serving line, new sliding doors and seats and an increase in the usable space overall.

Source: This post first appeared on sandiegouniontribune.com

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