Food pantry set up in memory of St Tarcissus ‘Coach Lou’
by BRIAN NADIG
A new food pantry collection area has been set up on the grounds of Saint Tarcissus Parish in memory of Louie Gonzales, its longtime football coach who died last month from the coronavirus.
"My two boys played for Lou. I got to know him really well," said parish member Melisa Sipolt Moroko, who along with Kim Hyland have been volunteering to create the "Louie G. Food Pantry."
Given that the pandemic has prevented the parish from holding a public ceremony in honor of "Coach Lou," the pantry has served as a memorial and has allowed donors to pay tribute to his legacy, Moroko said. "There seems like there is some sort of healing every time someone drops off food there," she said.
Initially a cedar cabinet, where non-perishable food items can be dropped off, was placed in the convent courtyard at 6035 W. Ardmore Ave., Moroko said.
The cabinet itself has played a role in parish history as it was where Sister Nicholas, who "everyone in the neighborhood knew" kept her baking utensils, Moroko said. The parish is planning to have the convent demolished and the land converted into a parking lot.
Response was phenomenal, and a short time later a larger waterproof shed was installed, Moroko said. The Danny McGovern Group, a local real estate company, donated the shed.
In addition, donations for the pantry also are being collected at the Shop and Save Market, 6312 N. Nagle Ave., whose owner Eva Grzybek Jakubowski graduated from Saint Tarcissus School in 1984, according to Gladstone Park Neighborhood Association vice president John Garrido.
The store itself has donated large amounts of food for the pantry, Garrido said. "They’re going to make sure that the food pantry always has food," he said.
Currently Saint Tarcissus serves primarily as a collection center, as its donated food is taken to the Saint Cornelius Food Pantry, 5205 N. Lieb Ave., for distribution to needy families, Moroko said.
For years Saint Tarcissus collected food for the pantry at Saint Cornelius, but the collection area was just "a box in a vestibule," Moroko said. However, in recent weeks donations are flowing in on a regular basis, and "now the Saint Cornelius Food Pantry is packed," she said. "This is the way the community wanted to help (during the pandemic)."
The pantry at Saint Cornelius is open from 1 to 2 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and its entrance is in the rear of the rectory, accessible through the alley. Visitors are asked to stay in their vehicle, and a volunteer will bring out the food.
Plans call for the pantry to eventually relocate to Saint Tarcissus after the grounds of Saint Cornelius are closed later this year as part of the consolidation of the two parishes along with Saint Thecla. The three parishes are being merged into a singe parish that has been named Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity.