Tom Caldarera, Jr. 1930-2021
Starting more than 20 years ago, Fr. Bill Wright, St. John’s Episcopal Church, began serving lunches to anyone who was hungry and standing in line at the Sack Lunch Program serving window. He shared his experiences with Tom Caldarera, owner of Taliano’s Italian Restaurant, who wanted to help these hungry people as well. Tom started making soup and taking it to the Sack Lunch Program. He and his wife, Dorothy, would serve soup with the sack lunches every Tuesday. On Thursdays he would send a big pot of soup so volunteers could serve it. The serving line at SLP was always long on Tuesdays and Thursdays because the people knew it was Soup Day.
Along with the soup, Tom would serve a kind word to everyone who came to the window. Over the years, Tom befriended some of the people who stood in the SLP serving line. One SLP customer, Lucky, would be at the serving window every Tuesday and Thursday to help bring in the big pot of soup for Tom. Another person related that in a more recent visit, as she came to the window she saw Tom was dozing off in the sunshine. She said she startled him, by grabbing his hand and saying “Tom, I love you.” Tom roused with a smile and returned a squeeze of her hand. As she turned and walked away, her heart and soul warmed, she also had a cup of soup!
Serving at the SLP window was a family affair for the Caldareras. Dorothy and Tom served soup and lunches every Tuesday. Their children and grandchildren would often be there to help. Tom wanted all his family to learn and do service to help others. They all loved being together at SLP, serving their community with food and love.
Tom died at the age of 90, on Feb. 12. Serving a warm meal to people in need was Tom’s legacy. Joe Caldarera will carry on this family tradition of service and will make the soup for SLP customers.
In March, Mayor George McGill issued a proclamation marking the day as Thomas “Tom” Caldarera Jr. Day. Friends and family gathered at the lunch facility. A unique plaque was presented to the family – made from half of a large soup pot. The other half of pot, identical, hangs in his honor at the Sack Lunch Program building.
– Jean Kolljeski, Co-Director of Saint John’s Sack Lunch Program