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Youngstown dining hall for poor loses donors amid furor over veep-hopeful Ryan

Published: Sat, October 20, 2012 @ 12:08 a.m.

By David Skolnick



The president of Mahoning County’s St. Vincent de Paul Society says the agency has taken a financial hit after his criticism of Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s visit to the soup kitchen made national news.

“The amount of people who called and said they were donors who would stop contributing is substantial,” said Brian J. Antal, who runs the society.

When asked for specifics, Antal said “donations are private,” but of the people who’ve called, “dozens have identified themselves” and are donors.

Ryan visited the soup kitchen last Saturday.

The woman who coordinates the dining hall for the poor on Saturday gave Ryan’s campaign permission to visit the facility.

Ryan ran late and missed the breakfast crowd. His campaign asked that a few pots and pans be kept dirty so Ryan and his family could be photographed cleaning them, said Juanita Sherba, St. Vincent’s Saturday coordinator for the dining hall.

Antal said it’s inappropriate for a politician to use the soup kitchen for a “publicity stunt.”

In response, Mark Munroe, the county’s Republican Party chairman, said it’s “hypocritical” of Antal “to maintain a nonpolitical stance because what he’s doing [by complaining] is very political.”

In the last few days, Antal said the critical calls have been overtaken by those who support the organization with some offering to contribute money.

But, again, Antal said donations are private and declined to say how much has been received.

A woman from Lake Elsinore, Calif., contacted The Vindicator by email Friday saying the fallout is a “tragedy for the hungry and poor,” and wanted to contribute $100 to the society.

The faith-based society received $12,000 in federal money this year and raised about $175,000 to $200,000 in private donations for the dining hall, Antal said.

The nearby food pantry received $3,200 in federal aid this year and $75,000 in private donations, he said.

Without private contributions, the organization cannot survive, Antal said.

St. Vincent, on West Front Street in downtown Youngstown, serves 98,000 meals to the poor annually with 200 to 250 people served lunch every weekday and about 150 served breakfast on Saturdays, Antal said. The hall is closed Sundays.

The society is a stand-alone organization not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Youngstown or Catholic Charities though it has coordinated events with both, Antal said.


1Photoman(1249 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Antal knows darned well that all he has to do is get on the phone for a few days and he can find more local donars. While this city has its flaws, it remains a giving community.

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2harleydog(243 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Then why did they make it a politcal issue???

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3sue(179 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

All Antal had to say is this: "While the St. Vincent de Paul Society does not align itself with any political party, we welcome ANY person who would like to visit our facility and learn about the important work we do for the Youngstown community." He could have used the Ryan visit to highlight the society and at the same time invited Biden and Obama to visit as well. It's simple public relations. Opportunity lost.

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4AtownAugie(892 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Mr/Ms Headline Writer: the much more appropriate headline for this story would be "Youngstown dining hall for poor loses donors after Antal's publicity stunt." (As Mr Skolnick informs us in his Friday article, it was Mr Antal who called him at the Vindy as well as calling a reporter Mr Antal knew at the Washington Post. Such lack of judgment is appaling.)

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5ytownsteelman(680 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

I would guess that at the same time, donations to the Rescue Mission are increasing! Conservatives are not stingy so that money will just be redirected to another worthy recipient.

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6Wapiti(139 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Leave it to the republicans to bow to mitt in not caring about the 47%. Way to go mitt. I know I'll continue donating to St. Vincent. mitt and his ilk won't.

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7BrothaLove(81 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

So, basically Romney and Ryan have policy ideas that would take food out of the mouths of the poor and now Ryan has shown up, washed an already clean pot and again managed to take food out of the mouths of the poor. At least these two guys are consistant in thier stand against anyone who is NOT priviledged.

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8southsidedave(5199 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

We are still debating this a week later? I guess if the RNC had made a "contribution" to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, everything would have been OK?

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9app68(22 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

How about both parties donate the millions they spend campaigning to soup kitchens and missions instead of jet setting around the U.S. Talk about wasting money that could really help people all they have to do is look in the mirror.

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10BrothaLove(81 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago


The bottom line is this, the Republican agenda is clearly to cut as much funding as possible for these organizations. it is an insult for a man such as Ryan to show up and use these poor people to his advantage and then care less if they eat the day after the election.

Say what you will, but his visit was disgusting and a clear showing of his hypocrisy.


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11Anthony1984(1 comment)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Ryan,should have never went there in the first place.Maybe I'm wrong but I didn't see any dirty marks on any of the pans he washed.Don't know how he was taught to wash dirty dishes but a tiny bit of soap and rubbing the pan a few times isn't cleaning.

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12captainpeewee(76 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

If Oboma showed up to wash dishes mr Antal would be on his knees at the door nob waiting for his late arrivel ,

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13RoyH(38 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

cry me a river.

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14uselesseater(229 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Why shouldn't Ryan have gone there?

He's a citizen. He is a Catholic. I am sure he cares about the needy. I am sure he gives to non profits and especially Catholic related charities.

It's not like when Obama shows up for the photo ops that he's always dropping off a pile of taxpayer goodies for them. I mean, there are some times when he actually isn't.

Remind which prior Republican president cut any significant funding to the needy? All we ever see is increased handouts by the government.

I feel the same way about the military spending though. I am an equal opportunity hater.

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