The Ladies of Charity pantry supports the community


Friday, September 16, 2022

Courtesy photo / The Center of Hope

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The Center of Hope, a food pantry and thrift store in North Salt Lake, is run by the Ladies of Charity.

By Laura Vallejo

Intermountain Catholic

NORTH LAKE — Serving 500 to 600 people a month, The Center of Hope, a food pantry on Center Street in North Salt Lake, has been supporting people in need for nearly 20 years. The center provides basic necessities such as food free of charge.

The Center of Hope, which began operating in 2003, is important because “we began to see that so many people had no place to go to get the help they needed,” said Mary Ellen Dworshak, one of the Ladies of Charity. pantry manager, on the importance of the Center of Hope.

The center originally started as a temporary pantry in the driveway of the Daughters of Charity residence, but in 2010 it moved to its current premises and expanded earlier this year in an adjacent office.

The Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul has ministered in the Diocese of Salt Lake City since 1920. The Ladies of Charity, a lay outreach ministry led by the Daughters of Charity, was established in 2003 in Bountiful . They also have a group in Salt Lake City.

When the group was formed in Bountiful, its members realized that in their community “there is a lot of wealth and there is a lot of poverty. … We wanted to meet the need,” Dworshak said.

The Ladies of Charity have been approached by people who say that when they go to other pantries they don’t feel respected or valued, something the group took into consideration when they started to plan their installation.

“We wanted a place that welcomed everyone into the community, where everyone felt respected,” Dworshak said. “People always say how coming here is…a good experience for everyone.”

The Center of Hope now provides food to approximately 45 families each week, thanks to donations from various organizations, local businesses and individuals.

For example, “The LDS Church helps us with fresh food, Costco gives us whatever extras they have, like bread, pastries, sometimes even meat…so people who come to the custodian eat, in addition to getting canned or non-perishable food, they also get fresh food,” Dworshak said.

Falling on hard times can happen to anyone, and people’s circumstances can change, Dworshak said. Additionally, those who receive help often reciprocate when they can.

For example, during the pandemic, the pantry provided boxes of food for their customers, and “many of them, after sorting out what they really needed, returned some items for others to use” , recalls Dworshak. “It just warmed our hearts.”

Additionally, “we had a very significant donation to the pantry from a former pantry patron. They just wanted to give back some of what they received when they were in need,” she said.

The Center of Hope Food Pantry is under the direction of Sister Germaine Sarrazin, DC, but “as Sr. Sarrazin ages, the time may come when the Daughters of Charity may not be a pantry sponsor,” said said Dworshak. .

For this reason, the Ladies of Charity are trying to find other ways to keep the doors of the Center of Hope open. For example, in July they added a thrift store item next to the pantry “as a new way to be self-sufficient,” Dworshak said.

All proceeds from the thrift store also support the Center for Hope.

As divided as the world is right now, “I think it’s important to show our compassion and unity; we have to unite and help each other,” Dworshak said. “We only grow when we help each other.”

The Center of Hope is located at 74 S. Orchard Drive, North Salt Lake. It is open from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Monday; 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Donations to the Center of Hope Food Pantry can be made at or mailed to 966 Fox Hill Rd, North Salt Lake, UT 84054.

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