Recently, Charles Solimine, from St. Rose of Lima parish in Short Hills, volunteered for the first time at St. Ann’s soup kitchen. He quickly let us know that he had gone to St. Ann’s for kindergarten! The day of volunteering brought back warm memories for him, so we chatted with him about the experience:

What do you remember about your time at St. Ann’s School?

I was born in Newark in 1948 to an Italian-American family. My grandfather and his four sons, including my father, owned a produce business about a block away from St. Ann’s. Since we are Catholic and the family business was so close to the school, it was an obvious choice that my parents enrolled me at St. Ann’s when I was five in kindergarten.

How did it feel to come back after so many years to volunteer in the soup kitchen?

When I was first asked to help out in the soup kitchen at St. Ann’s, I was thrilled to be able to go back to my old neighborhood and parish. It is wonderful to know that while you read of so many churches closing– it’s good to know that St. Ann’s is alive and well. Who says you can never go home?

What do you think of the work Franciscan Charities is doing with the community around St. Ann’s?

It’s heartwarming to see the good work Franciscan Charities is doing for the community of St. Ann’s. Reaching out and helping those less fortunate is the definition of what it means to be a Christian. I have volunteered for several years helping out in other soup kitchens, but I must say, St. Ann’s is the most organized and well run one that I have seen—Keep up the good work!


Photo of Charles and his wife, Maria, celebrating their 43rd wedding anniversary at St. Rose of Lima Church.