The Hospitality Center to get new Port Arthur home, continue meal outreach for needy

Published 12:26 am Tuesday, May 18, 2021

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The Hospitality Center, which has served a multitude of individuals who are needy or experiencing homelessness, will be demolished and a new facility constructed in its place.

Derrick Owens, director of development and communications for Catholic Charities, said a generous gift would pay for the construction of the new facility, which is one of seven programs of Catholic Charities of Southeast Texas.

A special “ground turning” ceremony starts at 1 p.m. May 24 to kick off construction of the new facility. It will be held at the current site of the Center, 3959 Gulfway Drive.

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Owens said the Center’s operations moved to St. James’ Kirwin Hall a few blocks away, where guests will be able to receive their meals daily. To supplement the meal service, guests receive sack lunches, breads and other food items to take with them.

The pandemic led to some changes in the way the services were rendered. Instead of the cafeteria-style eating, the guests received their daily meals to-go.

Michael Bowser, front left, Hospitality Center Director Christina Green, Ben Harper, Nancy Harper and Kathleen Black stand in the serving line area inside the Hospitality Center in December 2020. (Mary Meaux/The News file photo)

This will continue while the new facility is under construction, Owens said.

Demolition of the current facility is tentatively set for this week.

“There will be a brand new facility at the same site. The project is scheduled to be completed by October this year,” Owens said, adding this is a projected date subject to change.

Bishop David Toups said the church is grateful for the generosity of its supporters, who are making it possible “to allow us to continue to help our community and fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ to be His servants in the world today.”

“Our new Catholic Charities’ Hospitality Center will be something beautiful that Port Arthur and the Diocese of Beaumont will be proud of,” Toups said.

The Hospitality Center opened its doors to the public at 4928 Gulfway Drive on Christmas Day 1987.

The program moved to 3959 Gulfway Drive, affectionately remembered as “The Old McDonalds” in 1998 and has been there ever since, according to information from Catholic Charities.

Christina Green, director of the Hospitality Center, and a dedicated corps of volunteers work tirelessly to provide free meals every day of the year.

During the last fiscal year, 40,419 meals were served to those in need regardless of their age, race, gender or religion, according to Catholic Charities.

The Center is open 365 days a year and serves a healthy meal for the elderly on fixed incomes, temporary needy, working poor, disabled and those experiencing homelessness.