Published : Tuesday, November 26, 2019 | 6:15 PM
For seven years now, the Pasadena Sandwich Company (PSC), through its Share a Meal program, has opened its doors for anyone needing company and a hot meal on Thanksgiving. This year, the family business-cum-charity for the holidays is taking its show on the road.
“We will hand-deliver Thanksgiving meals and provide food, personal care and household items to over 100 local families-in-transition throughout the holidays,” said Meghan Fink, who runs the PSC business along with siblings Kaytee, Nicole, and Jon.
They are the children of Stephen Fink founder of PSC, “a family-owned, New York-style delicatessen that has been ‘sandwiching’ the City for over 20 years,” according to its website.
Fink passed in 2011, and it is in his memory and honor the annual dinners have been continued and dedicated.
“He opened the doors of his restaurant to anyone who had nowhere to go, who maybe didn’t have families, who maybe didn’t have food,” Ms. Fink remembered Thanksgiving with her father. “There was no boundary on who was allowed to come.
“The heart behind it all was that no one would be alone and no one would be hungry.”
Stephen Fink had a good relationship with local firefighters who would come by on Thanksgiving to spend time at the dinner. When the senior Fink passed, Meghan was approached by Steven Lawhorn who is, not coincidentally, Pasadena’s Firefighter of the Year.
“He came to me and said, ‘Okay, so your dad would be doing this to ensure that the community was taken care of. What are you doing?’ So we sat down to look at what was missing and we found the dinner was something that made a real difference,” explained Fink.
The event has special significance for her, because the Finks were a family-in-transition, that is, on their way from homlessness to homebound when Poppa Fink started the sandwich shop at 259 East Sierra Madre Villa Avenue.
“When he opened the restaurant it changed everything,” Meghan recalled.
Although PSC will not be hosting its annual Thanksgiving and Christmas events this year, it will continue to accept donations for dispersal to families in transition on an as-needed basis, Fink explained.
Past dinners have served as many 1,200 and been festive in a way only that many well-fed people on a holiday can be festive. They have been 100 percent volunteer-driven.
The stories of these volunteers, some alone for the holidays as well, are now known to Fink and there are those who have expressed a sadness that the dinner event is no more.
To which she says, “We’re still doing it. It just looks a little different this year.”
The store and family are, in fact, deepening their commitment and widening their reach as the enterprise evolves into The Sharing Initiative. It is a story of how doing a little good led to a realization of how much more was needed.
In a letter to sponsors and supporters of Pasadena Share a Meal, PSC noted that, “we will be taking time off to restructure our format. Please be assured that our intention is to use the season to move forward in the years ahead, update and improve our events and expand into new and better ways of serving Pasadena.”
The new title of The Sharing Initiative, the letter said, “more accurately encompasses our organization’s model and vision statement, more concisely communicates what we provide for the community, and allows us to house each of our distinct programs under a single name.”
The Sharing Initiative targets Pasadena families who are transitioning from homelessness to self-sufficiency, or vice versa, and does so throughout the year by providing food, personal care and household items.
The 2019 collection drive will be ongoing through the end of the year. “We are collecting, food, canned food, all that kind of food, personal care and household items,” Fink explained. “We like slightly worn clothes, lightly used toys, things like that that can be easily given to families.”
She emphasized that the $5 contribution is as welcome as the $500 one.
The project counts upon close collaboration with Pasadena Unified School District’s (PUSD) Families-in-Transition program, which identifies the recipients of PSC’s kindness and provides the transportation necessary to make deliveries.
Evolution into a longer-standing service with home delivery started with changes happening at PUSD, said Fink.
“School closings, budgets cuts, things like that,” she explained. “We chose to make this the year that we continue to serve families in a way they really need. It’s a big deal and takes months of planning, arranging, and organization.”
Program partners include the Fink Fund; Pasadena Fire Department; Remainders; Creative Readers; Sydney Paige, and people like you.