By Brianna Gleghorn
For over four decades, the Newman Center on Youngstown State University’s campus sets time aside on Wednesday nights to fill the center with music and fellowship and to bring the community together through home-cooked meals.
The Newman Center, a Catholic campus ministry at YSU, “provides a spiritual home for those seeking a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a social hub for students seeking to grow their faith, while pursuing their courses of study,” according to the center’s website.
While the Catholic ministry center has serviced the student body for 81 years, the Table of Plenty program has been feeding students and faculty for about half that time.
Thomas Brozich is the director of the Newman Center and has a doctorate in ministry and psychology. He said the program is an outreach for YSU community members to enjoy each other’s company over a meal.
“It’s just another positive event where they can build up and meet other people of different walks of life as well as get to know and experience other people’s culture and background,” Brozich said.
According to Brozich, the program has attracted students from near and far, such as foreign exchange and commuter students who want to build new relationships.
“We encourage people to be their best in whatever walk of life, and this is part of the outreach we have,” Brozich said. “It’s a camaraderie that comes together where people can be together and engage one another.”
Nicole Kent-Strollo, director of student outreach and support at YSU, said the program supports students who are new to the area or don’t have a good family life to turn to.
“It’s a great way to have a home-cooked meal,” Kent-Strollo said. “That’s really important for students who are not near family. I also see students who don’t have that typical family life.”
In Kent-Strollo’s opinion, the service not only encourages students socially but also financially by providing a free meal once a week.
“I think it’s just a really great opportunity for students who don’t know anybody around here and to go meet people,” Kent-Strollo said. “But then also to offer some really good food.”
Joao Garretto, a senior electrical engineering major, said he has taken part in the program since he started attending YSU in 2016.
“Table of Plenty is very special,” Garretto said. “Every time I need something, I can reach out to them. If I need some help or need to talk and have fun, I come to the Newman Center. It’s a great time.”
Garretto said the service has helped him stay close to his faith while away from his home in Brazil.
“Since I started coming, this has felt like my second family,” Garretto said. “In a Catholic standpoint, school is very important, but students can keep their faith alive here.”
According to Brozich, the program offers more than just a home-cooked meal each week.
“We’re building community inside of a larger community,” Brozich said.
Meal options range from pasta with meatballs, bread and salad to hamburgers and hot dogs. The meal also includes desserts such as pie or ice cream.
The Table of Plenty meals are offered at the Newman Center on Wednesdays at 6 p.m.