St. Susan Center is the result of a tragedy and a dream. The dream was first articulated by an ecumenical group of clergy from the Southern Chautauqua region, who wished to provide… “food for the hungry and to welcome strangers.” There was great love and unmistakable worth in their dream, but it lacked the necessary funding to be put into action.
A tragic car accident that took the life of a young downstate New Yorker named Susan Tornebene led to a very special gift that brought the dream to fruition. While Susan was cared for in WCA Hospital, the clergy of many local churches and our community surrounded her and her family with loving care. Susan did not survive the accident and, in her memory and in honor of the clergy and WCA Hospital staff that cared for her, Susan’s family made the monetary gift that was needed to establish Jamestown’s soup kitchen. St. Susan Center opened its doors on February 1, 1984.
Their gift has nurtured our community for thirty years in countless ways. They shared with us an indelible lesson in love and we share that gift by offering “food, fellowship, dignity and respect to all who come through our doors.”
The first home of St. Susan Center was in the former St. James Catholic School. The soup kitchen was the guest of the church, paying no rent, utilities or fees of any kind. When the school was sold in 2006, St. Susan Center launched a major capital/relocation campaign.
Today, the Center occupies part of the former Chautauqua Hardware building on Water Street. Through the auspices of the Community Development Association and the generosity of the greater Jamestown community, the Center is barrier-free and beautiful and, once again, secure.
St. Susan Center hosts meetings and events… annual dinners, monthly meetings, special parties, holiday gatherings and more. Every time we open our doors, it is to build community and increase the understanding and support of our mission to feed the hungry. Their gift has nurtured our community for thirty years in countless ways. They shared with us an indelible lesson in love and we share that gift by offering, through our mission statement, “In response to the gospel we freely offer meals, fellowship, dignity and respect to all who come through our doors.”