Bishop Joseph V. Brennan, new head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno, prepares to roll out some dough and make a dog treat Friday in Clovis. Photo by Donald A. Promnitz
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
A local nonprofit — makers of a much-loved brand of dog treats — got a big boost with a large donation and a visit from the new bishop.
Bishop Joseph V. Brennan of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno stopped by the St. Francis Homeless Project Inc.’s kitchen at the Institute of Technology in Clovis Friday to see their operations up close, and to help them celebrate the presentation of a check worth $50,000 to help finance the expansion of their operations.
Gaining nonprofit status in 2010, the St. Francis Homeless Project was created by Sandra Kaye to help disadvantaged women learn valuable work skills via the making of all-natural dog treats. Every Friday, 7,000 to 9,000 of these treats are made in the two kitchens at ITT, where they’re sold in 121 retail locations. Now, they’re getting ready to start operations in a third kitchen in coordination with Breaking the Chains, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting human trafficking.
Lindsey Starkey, program coordinator for the St. Francis Homeless Project, is one of those to be helped. Previously, she’d been in and out of gangs and the streets in Fresno, where she lost her husband and her stepson, and three of her children were adopted out. Now working two full-time jobs and starting classes at Fresno City College, she’s working towards being a youth counselor, and providing for her 1-year-old daughter.
“My passion now is recovery — my passion now is changing lives — trying to make a difference in just one person by showing experience and just being able to share your testimony,” Starkey said. “And for me, every tragedy is a testimony. If you don’t share it, then you’re wasting it.”
Bishop Brennan said that he was highly impressed with the operation. Comparing to the parable of the Prodigal Son, he said the women involved now have the potential to turn their lives around.
“God’s math is really different from ours. Any kind of large number of bad choices we’ve made — they can have a cumulative effect, and they can be wiped out by one good choice,” he said. “And I think these women have made one good choice in their lives, and that’s going to lead to others.”