Meet the Staff

Donna Besteiro
Executive Director
Read about Donna

Even as a child I thought it shameful that a country as rich as America should have homeless men and women, children living on the streets, children who have nothing to eat before going to school, or parents who have nothing to eat before going to work. I wanted my children to understand that these people are just like the rest of us: human beings trying to make their way in the world. They are fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters who have fallen on hard times and who, given a helping hand, can add much to the fabric of our society. My husband and I, along with my children, prepared and served meals to the homeless, many of whom would not otherwise have eaten that day. We received much more than we provided to these individuals in their gratitude and blessings.

My brother, who was diagnosed with bipolar disease in his late 40s, became homeless after losing his job and suffered several medical setbacks. He quickly fell from a middle class upbringing to the fringes of society. Like many homeless persons, he suffered the scorn and distain of people who are too quick to affix unworthy labels on those without a home. Today, he lives in supportive housing and has access to medical services as well as food pantries and soup kitchens. These services enable him to live with some semblance of dignity and to expend his energies on obtaining work and giving back to his community.

The people that come to the Jan Peek Shelter are often, for the first time in their lives, connected to medical experts that diagnose them with metal health challenges and for the first time in their lives, obtain an understanding of the reason they have never “made the grade.” These are some of our most vulnerable citizens; they deserve our help, and many are those that give back the most to the community, after landing on their feet. The people who seek and obtain food at our choice food pantry — Fred’s Pantry — are families desperately trying to make ends meet; parents who do not want to see their children go to bed hungry and who want to be able to provide their children the nutrition they will need to grow into healthy adults. And those people we have the pleasure of serving at our breakfast soup kitchen — Sunny Donut — are often laborers who work long, hard days to buy clothing and afford the rent to keep a roof over their childrens’ heads. Working on behalf of the hungry and homeless is a privilege, and I believe I am making a difference in the lives of these citizens and the community.

Kathleen Spencer
Executive Assistant
Read about Kathleen

When I learned about CHOP, I jumped on the opportunity to volunteer at Fred’s Pantry. After a few months, I learned that my company was being sold and that I was going to lose my job. I soon got involved in the other entities of CHOP: the Sunny Donut program, helping to cook for their breakfast program, and Jan Peek House, helping the Executive Assistant with various tasks. After a year and a half of being unemployed and volunteering, the opportunity opened up for the Executive Assistant position at the Jan Peek house and I gladly accepted it. I feel that it was meant to be as I love working here.

Stanley Moore
Facility Coordinator
Read about Stanley

In 1995, I became homeless after a long 30 year battle with alcohol and drugs. It was suggested that I go to DSS and tell them that I was homeless. That’s when my journey to recovery began. After a year, I was asked to fill out an application for employment at the Open Arms program where I was housed. I was so grateful I received a job and became employable again, giving back what was so freely given to me.

 

 

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