By now we’ve all heard the story of how Paul Ryan and company “ramrodded” their way into a soup kitchen in Youngstown, Ohio this past Saturday, only to pose for a photo-op by washing pans that had been specifically requested by a Ryan campaign staff member after almost all the staff and patrons had left. The entire event was described by Juanita Sherba, St. Vincent’s Saturday coordinator for the dining hall. “It was the phoniest piece of baloney I’ve ever been associated with.” Ms. Sherba said to the local reporters for Vindy.com. “In hindsight, I would have never let him in the door.”
But that’s only part of the story…
The soup kitchen is operated by the Mahoning County’s St. Vincent de Paul Society. Located on Front Street in downtown Youngstown, deep in the heart of the “Rust Belt”, it is an area that was devastated when the steel industry began to vacate 35 years ago last month. The area has never fully recovered from the loss and the soup kitchen is still badly needed to this day.
The charity is composed of women and men, or “Vincentians”, who seek their “personal holiness through works of charity” according to their website. Funding for the society is largely through private donations. This year the society raised nearly $200,000. Those donations are currently being threatened.
When the president of Mahoning County’s St. Vincent de Paul Society, Brian J. Antal, stated that he was “shocked” and “angry” that Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan used the soup kitchen for a “publicity stunt”, it set the ball rolling for the extreme right wing. While trying to maintain a nonpartisan stance of not supporting either candidate for office, he inadvertently triggered the “Must Destroy” reflex of the conservatives for appearing to attack their candidate.
It didn’t take long for them to reach out on the Facebook page of the charity to show their distaste. “Mr. Antel you are an idiot.”, started one scholar. “Anyone who is thinking about donations to you should think twice.”
“HAVE YOU ANY IDEA ON HOW MANY ARE GOING TO WALK AWAY FROM YOUR ORGANIZATION BECAUSE OF THE COMPLAINTS FROM YOUR PRESIDENT?”, came from another, who seems to have problems with their capslock.
“… a typical democratic thinking people shouldnt be allowed to speak or vote because they have a different opinion. You know Hitler thought the same thing.”, spouted the history buff at another user defending the society.
Not only were there calls on Facebook threatening his position and the donations to the charity, according to The Huffington Post in a phone interview with Antel, hundreds of phone calls flooded their office, most of them anonymous. The effect of monetary losses have been big. “It appears to be a substantial amount,” Antal said. “You can rest assured there has been a substantial backlash.” He goes on to say he doesn’t understand why donors would take out their frustration over the incident on those who can’t afford to pay for their own meals. “I’m a volunteer,’ he told HuffPo. “I receive zero compensation. Withholding donations is only going to hurt the over 100,000 we serve annually.”
**The author is donating $20 to this worthy cause. FreakOutNation will match that donation. We hope you will match that, or give what you can afford:**
If you would like to offset the right wing hate that has been thrown against this charity, please donate to the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, money can be sent to P.O. Box 224, Youngstown, Ohio 44501 or at any First Place Bank locally.
Leave a comment for the author, if you need to get in touch with the charity — or just to comment.
Image: Business Insider