May We Introduce You?
If you have been around or near Dorothy Day House in the past several years, you probably know Bob Whalen. Bob has been the Kitchen Manager of Dorothy Day House since 2015. With a professional culinary career spanning over 30 years, he knows his way around a prep table.
“This work is a part of who I am,” says Whalen, “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work and be of service to our community. “
Whalen found his way into working with homeless shelters thanks to a chance encounter at a Job Center. He was in between jobs and was asked what he would want to do if he could not have the job he wanted with a restaurant.
“I would like to help feed the homeless.”
By chance, another client at the job center happened to hear him and suggest he talk to the people at the homeless shelter she happened to be living at. That shelter, as it happened, was Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency, otherwise known as BOSS.
After volunteering for a few months, Whalen readily accepted a job working in BOSS’s kitchen – and building various relationships with other local social service agencies, including Dorothy Day House.
“By the time Dorothy Day House was looking for a Kitchen Manager in 2015, I was able to just step in – it was a natural transition,” Whalen says with a smile, “It was where I was supposed to end up – I am totally at peace.”
So what has kept Bob with Dorothy Day House all these years?
“Our volunteers. I love working with them – and the rest of the kitchen staff. Our guests, too – just being able to talk to them and get to know them daily is incredibly rewarding. And it works both ways – one of the ways Dorothy Day House has helped me has been my own growth in accepting people exactly the way they are.”
When he is not helping us serve the homeless in Berkeley, Bob can be found repairing and remodeling his home, connecting with his friends and being involved in his faith community.