KATHY MARTINEZ INTERVIEW

Kathy Martinez is 31, with Dominican heritage. She lives in Bushwick and her family is there too. She was a client and then became a volunteer, and now works with clients in many different ways.

HOW DID YOU END UP HERE AT ST. JOHN’S BREAD & LIFE?

Her Grandmother Doris used to bring her here when it was a church. There was a soup kitchen here before the renovation. Her grandmother would socialize at the soup kitchen.

She volunteered in maintenance. She would clean, mop, and sweep at the new facility. “When there was nothing else to clean, the pantry stole me.”

In the pantry she does a little bit of everything, wears multiple hats. She’s bilingual and is the bridge between Spanish speaking clients and English speakers. She re-stocks the bags and pulls tickets. She also does intake for clients and picture IDs. “I’m a jack of a lot of trades.”

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO HELP?

“Giving back. This is my good deed every day, Monday thru Friday, feeding people, helping people.”

“I love this place. Sometimes it gets stressful. That’s just life. It’s an adventure. The most rewarding feeling is when clients come up to me and say, “You’re an angel; you helped me feed my family. I enjoy coming to work. I don’t mind.”

HOW WOULD YOU IMPROVE NYC HUNGER RELIEF?

“I thank God for Food bank of America and City Harvest. A lot of food is wasted. They could develop a recycling program. You could pass it on, give it for free at the school. Everybody’s hungry in New York. They will take the food. We give pamphlets to clients about where they can get food.”

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE AS THE NEXT PHASE FOR ST. JOHN’S B&L?

“Youth. If we could catch the youth, give them a little guidance. That would prevent a lot of stuff. A lot of youths don’t know where to go.”

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO NEXT?

I want to go back to college, get a degree in Human Services.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO POTENTIAL DONORS ABOUT WHY ST. JOHNS B&L IS A WORTHY PLACE?

“This is a home. You’ll get fed, taken care of, you’ll learn something. If you’re feeling down and out, this is the place to be. Everybody tries to help.”