Local Man Helps Homeless From the Kitchen

Phil Barrett helps the homeless by preparing delicious meals at the San Benito County homeless shelter.

Hollister
ā€“ One night a week from November though April, Phil Barrett
takes a little time to bring comfort to the county’s homeless by
spicing up their taste buds.
Hollister ā€“ One night a week from November though April, Phil Barrett takes a little time to bring comfort to the county’s homeless by spicing up their taste buds.

But the volunteer noted he’s just one of many who give their time preparing food at the San Benito County homeless shelter.

“All I am is a spoon in the silverware holder,” Barrett said.

Barrett, along with Karen Barrett, his wife of 23 years, has owned Flapjack’s Country Restaurant in Tres Pinos for six years.

The restaurant donates food and time to the homeless shelter and to its fundraisers, such as the upcoming Jazz Under the Stars event at Ridgemark Country Club.

Leigh Dietz, the San Benito County Homeless Task Force’s executive director, said the shelter appreciates people like Barrett.

“All of our clients looked forward to Wednesdays because he was cooking,” Dietz said.

The 53-year-old cook learned about philanthropy hanging around his parents’ Italian-American restaurant in Gilroy as child.

He said those in need often found some generosity at the restaurant’s back door.

“Not only did they get something hot there to eat, they also got something to take with them,” Barrett said.

And the comfort of going home to his mother’s veal cutlet sandwiches has remained with him through the years.

“I could smell the parsley and garlic,” Barrett said. “That stays.”

The volunteer hopes he can bring a pinch of that comfort to people less fortunate. Seeing his food put smiles on faces is part of what keeps Barrett going.

“When the people staying at the shelter eat my food and ask, ‘What are you cooking Phil?’ That’s the biggest reward,” he said.

Besides cooking for the homeless shelter, Barrett also serves on the San Benito County Parks and Recreation Commission, takes care of a stretch of Highway 25 through Adopt-A-Highway and spends time with his 20-year-old son, Duffy.

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