It started with a few men, a few down on their luck families, a few small acts of mercy that 40 years later is making a big impact on the hungry.
In 2018, Carolyn Chesser established the Jim Dotson Foundation in Jacksonville, Florida in memory of her father who was one of the men that started the outreach program that now operates out of Fort Caroline Presbyterian Church. It has grown from feeding church members families in need to operating a twice-monthly food pantry that feeds more than 2,000 people, hosts a monthly hot breakfast, and includes a clothing and toy ministry.
Carolyn said they are able to do this with the help of donors like Louis Joseph, who is the business of feeding people himself at his restaurant, The Mudville Grill. The beloved neighborhood institution, like most restaurants, was hit hard by COVID. Still, it hasn’t stopped him from using his restaurant as a platform to give back.
Louis and I went to grade school together at Christ the King and high school at Bishop Kenny. While we learned about serving the poor at school as part of our Catholic faith, Louis also recognizes the role his parents played in teaching him to give back. “I was raised by two wonderful parents who taught me at a young age to live my life with a warm heart. We live in a caring community. I try to support it in any way I can.”
Keeping a 55-gallon drum at the restaurant to collect canned food items for the foundation seems like the perfect way to honor the legacy of Jim Dotson. A few people doing what they can to help –and collectively making a difference for many.
The bin is located at Mudville Grille at 3105 Beach Blvd. 32207 or monetary donations can be mailed to the Jim Dotson Foundation at P.O. Box 8473 Jax, FL 32239.
Note from me: One of the reasons I wrote my new book Simple Mercies, is because oftentimes I think we fail to recognize the way small acts of kindness can make a difference. For the next few weeks, I am going to highlight simple ways that others are sharing mercy as an organic part of their daily life. If you or someone you know would like to participate in this series, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your own story of mercy. If you would like to learn more about the ways that mercy can bring peace and fulfillment to your life while answering God’s call to serve, preorder Simple Mercies, at this Amazon link or San Marco book store http://Bit.ly/PatanganSMB ~ love, Lara