WILKES-BARRE– An advocate for the poor, the hungry and the homeless was remembered in Luzerne County.
Anne Marie McCawley died Friday, just days before the Saint Vincent De Paul Soup Kitchen Thanksgiving dinner in Wilkes-Barre.
Volunteers showed up as they always do to serve lunch at the St. Vincent De Paul Kitchen in Wilkes-Barre. That’s what former director Anne Marie McCawley would expect, but it wasn’t easy for the volunteers to be there knowing she passed away Friday.
“It’s a hard day for me today. It’s a very hard day today,” said Mary Burns, a volunteer.
“It’s tough, a lot of these volunteers knew her for 20 some years so for them it’s really tough,” said Michael Cianciotta, soup kitchen director.
Anne Marie McCawley ran the soup kitchen for 25 years. She retired only three months ago as director and died on Friday, leaving quite a legacy.
“She was tough but she had a great heart. She always made sure everyone here got treated properly and with respect and dignity, and always giving no matter what the situation was, she found a way to help everybody,” said Ciancotta.
Anne Marie oversaw the growth from a small soup kitchen to what it became — a soup kitchen, food pantry and place to get clothes. She also helped the needy at other agencies. She is missed by all.
“This place wouldn’t be what it is without her,” said Angela Martin of Wilkes-Barre.
Many of those that have been helped by the St. Vincent De Paul Kitchen knew Anne Marie McCawley was always looking out for them.
“It always amazed me how she could get everything done, She was responsible and then some,” said Martin.
“Anne Marie was a wonderful woman, a strong woman and ran this kitchen very well. She was an inspiration to us, that’s why we kept coming back to volunteer,” said Burnes.
Volunteers were mourning Anne Marie as they started their busiest week, preparing the kitchens big Thanksgiving dinner. For the first time in 25 years she wouldn’t be there to help.
“She’ll be with us. She’ll be with us that day because it’s a busy day and we know she’ll be looking over us and guiding us,” said Burnes.
The kitchen will still look to her for help, but they’ll do it in prayer.