The following comes from a Jan. 15 story on the site of Catholic News Agency.
Bruno Serato, originally from Verona, Italy, where he grew up as one of seven children in a poor family, moved to the United States over 30 years ago and began to work as a dishwasher, but within 5 years had become the chef and owner of his own restaurant, the Anaheim White House, which is now a high-end restaurant in the area.
In 2003 the chef created “Caterina’s Club,” a project named after his mother that raises money for underprivileged children.
When Serato’s mother came to visit him in 2005, he took her to the local Boys and Girls Club, which is the main recipient of his clubs charitable funds, and while they were there they encountered a young boy eating a bag of potato chips for dinner.
It was then that they learned of the situation of the “motel kids,” which is a common phenomenon in the area where low-income families are unable to pay rent for an apartment, and are forced to live day-to-day in cheap hotels.
When they heard this, Serato recalled that his mother told him “Bruno! Go back to your restaurant and make all of these kids dinner!” which he did, and has done every night since.
“I continued to feed them because I thought to myself, I don’t have a warm meal just one night a week, or a few times a month,” he explained, “I eat dinner every night, and so do you. So these kids, they are going to eat every night!”
In 2011 Serato was nominated as one of CNN’s “Top 10” local heroes for feeding over 200 children pasta every night as an out-of-pocket expense. Since then publicity about his project has grown, and he now feeds over 1,000 children each night, operating almost 100 percent off of donations….
Sharing the story of a family of six who lived in a motel for 12 years, Serato recalled that he originally met the family’s son, Carlos, at the Boys and Girls Club.
“I soon realized he was part of the Boys and Girls Club’s Motel Outreach Program,” the chef recalled, stating that after learning “what a motel family was,” he “learned that Carlos has been living in a motel his entire life, and had known nothing different.”
“His parents had been stuck in the motel situation for 12 years, paying more monthly than they would if they were in an apartment or town home,” he explained, adding that “the only thing restricting them and their children from getting out of the motel life was a down payment.”
Being moved by the family’s situation, Caterina’s Club found “a good place for them,” and once the paperwork had been finalized, the chef “provided them with the down payment that had been holding Carlos and his family in a motel for 12 years.”
….Serato observed that he is also “a good friend” of the Bishop of Orange County, Kevin Vann, who writes about and promotes the chef’s efforts in various ways throughout the diocese.
To read the entire story, click here.