Spotlight On: Lowell Transitional Living Center

“You know, even people who seem to be in the best place…maybe they haven’t always been in the best place.” —Janet Barsorian, Kitchen Manager at Lowell Transitional Living Center*

*one of Food For Free’s 100+ wonderful recipient agencies!

Q: So what does Lowell Transitional Living Center do, and who do you help?

Janet Barsorian: “We help people that are homeless. We’re a 90-bed facility. They come and stay until we can get them the help that they need. It takes time. We try to get them back to baseline so they can be out on their own.

The center also provides Supportive Housing in single room apartments, and their Bad Weather Bed program aims to welcome folks who may not normally seek shelter.

“Even with these storms—there’s still people, believe it or not, living outside, living in tents. We don’t want them freezing to death outside.”

Q: What does the kitchen do, and how does Food For Free help you do it?

We feed everybody. We do three meals a day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A couple of times a week, we do a big hot breakfast.”

“Well, as you know, we have a budget and the budget’s limited. We use [food from Food For Free] for all three meals. It really helps us and takes us through.”

Kelly and the guys at Food For Free are the kindest, nicest people. They get us great stuff…fish and chicken, meals from the university…and they make us feel so comfortable.”
[Aw, shucks! We’re so glad! 🙂 ]

Q: Can you tell me about a moment with a client that makes you smile, that makes you proud of the work you do?

Janet Barsorian (R), Lowell Transitional Living Center Kitchen Manager, with Joyce Bellefeuille, founder of Power of Flowers Project (L)

Janet Barsorian (R), Lowell Transitional Living Center Kitchen Manager, with Joyce Bellefeuille, founder of Power of Flowers Project (L)

When I ask Barsorian this question, she immediately tells me about clients who have moved on to jobs or housing:

“I get people crying, saying, ‘Thank you for what you’ve given us.’ People that are moving out into their own apartments, I always make them food boxes.

“If I go into Stop & Shop—one of the guys that works there, [a former client], he comes over and hugs me.

People are hugging and kissing me all the time, but knock on wood, I haven’t had a cold all year! My kids are like, ‘Oh, my god, mom!'”

“[Former clients] do come back. There was this kid who came back—he’s working now, doing snow removal and plowing—he hands me $100 and says, ‘I want you to buy junky cereal, Fruit Loops, Apple Jacks…” And I say, ‘No, no, you need the money,’ but he says, ‘No, I want you to take it.’ So I went Saturday morning, early—I ran out and I bought all that stuff, Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, you name it. We have a lot of older women, and I bought them the tea they like.”

“People who have come on hard times…they’re so happy helping out, believe me.

“When you feel like you’ve made a difference in someone’s life for even a moment, that’s a great feeling.”

We’re so glad to provide food for Lowell Transitional Living Center, and amazed by the hard work of Janet and her team!

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