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We follow the hospitality tradition found in the 1,500 year old Rule of St. Benedict:

“When someone knocks at your door, treat them as if Christ Himself were standing there.”

St. Francis Catholic Kitchen
& Jesus Mary Joseph Home

Established in 1982, St. Francis Catholic Kitchen & Jesus Mary Joseph Home is a tax-deductible 501c3 charitable non-profit organization in California.

Brief History

In the early 1980’s, when offering basic services to care for homeless people was a radical idea in Santa Cruz, Peter Carota had a vision to do just that. Not yet ordained a Roman Catholic priest, he started caring for the needy by serving sandwiches around town from the back of a long, white van. On the sides of his van, Peter lettered the words “St. Francis Catholic Kitchen” and added a painted image of St. Francis of Assisi feeding the birds.

In Wayne Shaffer, a Santa Cruz realtor like himself, Peter Carota found a like-minded collaborator. The two realtors looked around for a permanent home in which to run a soup kitchen with a dining hall. In 1984, their dream came true. Near River Street, they found an old automotive repair shop for sale on Mora St, right next to the railroad tracks and down the hill from Holy Cross Catholic Church.

To finance the purchase and the remodeling, Peter the realtor sold his own home and investment properties, then donated the proceeds to a brand-new non-profit charitable organization named St. Francis Catholic Kitchen. In addition to Wayne Shaffer, early non-profit volunteers included Beatrice Easter, Harriet Jacoff, Lee Laboa, Charlie Heil, Tom Martin, Mary Helen Tafoya, Cy Udall, Theresa Udall, and many others.

In 1989, Peter Carota purchased and donated a house to serve as an emergency shelter. Located on the west side of Santa Cruz, Jesus Mary Joseph Home is now a transitional shelter for homeless women and children.


Father Peter Carota (1948-2016)

“I founded St. Francis Catholic Kitchen to show the community of Santa Cruz what it meant for me to act as a Catholic Christian by helping the poor. My goal was not just to feed, clothe and shelter the poor, but also to heal their brokenness through bringing them to Jesus and His Church. It was prayer that sustained our work and reminded us to do it with love.”  — Fr. Peter Carota, quoted in 2009

Father Peter was born in Santa Cruz on November 15, 1948. His remarkable and devout parents, Mario and Estelle, raised a family of 19 children, including 11 foster children. At one time, the family owned a bus which was used on family trips.

The late Mario Carota taught his sons how to build and remodel houses. As the family grew, they worked together to construct additional bedrooms and living space to accommodate everyone.

Fr. Peter attended Watsonville High School. After graduating from Carlton University in Ontario, Canada, he worked as a realtor in Santa Cruz. In the 1980’s, he sold everything, founded the St. Francis Catholic Kitchen nonprofit, and purchased two properties for the soup kitchen and the Jesus Mary Joseph Home.

Following priestly ordination in 1997, he was pastor and assistant pastor at numerous churches in California and Arizona, and even built a church, the Chapel of the Holy Angels in Ripon, CA, where he is now buried.

At various times, Fr. Peter did missionary work in Mexico and Brazil and maintained an Internet blog at In 2016, Fr. Peter Carota went home to Jesus in Escalon, CA where he had served for 10 years as pastor of St. Patrick’s Church. He was 67 years old.


2022 Board of Directors

On behalf of St. Francis Catholic Kitchen, a California non-profit public benefit corporation, the board will follow the social justice teachings of the Roman Catholic Church; share duties & responsibilities of governing and maintaining the soup kitchen and the transitional shelter programs, operated in two separate facilities; make policy, staffing, and financial decisions; help with fundraising; keep accurate records and hold monthly meetings on 2nd Tuesdays, or as needed.

Wayne Shaffer

Wayne Shaffer


The inspiration of founder Fr. Peter Carota and my growing relation with Jesus has kept me committed to helping our brothers and sisters with physical and spiritual support.

Be the Difference Individual Award Winner 2019 

Michael Shumate

Michael Shumate


Having been a lifelong admirer of St. Francis, who followed the teachings of Christ, I joined the board of St. Francis Catholic Kitchen in order to participate in following those teachings.

Lou Versman

Lou Versman

Public Relations

As a long time local business owner, I am proud to be part of the mission to feed, clothe and care for the hungry and to work along side such dedicated and devoted people who continue to serve our community by helping people in need in such a selfless manner.

Kathy Manus

Kathy Manus

Secretary & Outreach

My joy is to serve people in need. What a privilege it is to be able to devote an hour or two per day, using whatever skills that I may have, to help improve the quality of life for those struggling with poverty, hunger or homelessness. 

Richard Crowe

Richard Crowe

Soup Kitchen Program Director

One of Richard’s favorite statements: “We have to start somewhere in meeting the needs of our guests who come to the kitchen. People can make healthier choices for themselves with a full stomach, some clean dry clothes and a hot shower.”

Each meal begins with Richard gathering all of the guests to quiet their minds and give thanks for the food. This simple prayer is a hallmark of the kind approach Richard takes with all the guests. The guests are further helped by providing direction to organizations that can assist with addiction, joblessness and mental health issues. As soup kitchen program director, Mr. Crowe is state-certified in the safe handling of food. Under his leadership, the soup kitchen has passed city and county health inspections every year.

Pat Gorman        August 15, 1955 - September 2, 2022

Pat Gorman August 15, 1955 - September 2, 2022

Former JMJ Program Director

In recent years, the success of Jesus Mary Joseph Home is in large part due to the work of Director Pat Gorman. She says, “All are welcome at JMJ. Through our program, we offer women and children pathways to stability in a loving, supportive environment. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin, age or disability. Since our beginnings, a number of hospice patients found a refuge here for their final days on earth. Many former residents, both women and children, have returned to say ‘JMJ was a lifesaver’ and ‘thank you’.

Under Pat’s direction, the JMJ program focuses on providing 24/7 shelter, healing and support for woman and children who are experiencing homelessness. The goal is to guide them toward new opportunities in education and employment, and to help them locate housing. JMJ can also provide private daily personal care for one terminally-ill person at a time. To serve JMJ residents and hospice patients more fully, Pat completed the qualifications for State Board Certified Nurse Assistant and Home Health Aide. She is also fully qualified in homeless advocacy with a BA degree from UCSC in Community Studies and has 21 years of experience at JMJ.

Bernadette Erlach

Bernadette Erlach

Website Editor

Born and raised in Santa Cruz County, I grew up as a parishioner of Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church in Capitola. My parents involved me in their devotion to Jesus’ Corporal Works of Mercy by feeding and clothing the homeless and visiting the sick.

In the past several years, I have served the local community as a peace officer and I have become well acquainted with the services that JMJ and SFCK provide, as well as the populations they serve. I have witnessed firsthand how SFCK, under Richard Crowe’s direction, provides a safe environment and offers consistent services to hundreds of people who often feel displaced and vulnerable. I am so proud and blessed to serve God’s people in my new capacity as a member of the board of directors!

Morgan Wiley

Morgan Wiley

A community is only as healthy as its weakest member and only as wealthy as its most deprived. I am honored to serve as part of an organization who meets people where they are by offering a meal, seat at the table, second chances and the opportunity to heal. Through my background and career in leadership development, social change and building relationships I hope to bring more visibility and partnership to this important work happening in our community.

In Kind Donations

Businesses & Restaurants

One-time and regular gifts of free or discounted food, commodities, services, supplies & equipment help to sustain the mission & programs of St. Francis Catholic Kitchen & Jesus Mary Joseph Home.

    • Big Creek Lumber
    • Carlon’s Fire and Safety Sales & Service / Salinas
    • Chaminade Resort & Spa
    • Chipotle
    • Dignity Health Dominican Hospital
    • Elks Lodge #0824
    • Erik’s DeliCafé
    • Five Star Catering / Watsonville
    • Gino’s Landscaping
    • Grey BearsKathleen’s Landscape Design
    • Kelly Moore Paints
    • Lighthouse Bank
    • Little Caesar’s Pizza
    • Martinelli’s / Watsonville
    • Meisser Seales Riccabona LLP
    • MPress Digital Printing
    • Mount Hermon Conference Center / Felton
    • Hotel Paradox
    • Pacific Cookie Company
    • Patrick R. Eastman Electric
    • Pure Water of Santa Cruz
    • Safeway at Mission Street
    • San Lorenzo Lumber
    • Santa Cruz Warriors
    •  Front Office volunteer workdays
    • Second Harvest Food Bank / Watsonville
    • Shaffer & Associates / Santa Cruz
    • Starbuck’s / Pacific Av Santa Cruz & 41st Ave Capitola
    • The Honey Bucket Man / Felton
    • Trinity Technologies Inc. / Mark Powers
    • Upper Crust Pizza
    • Warehouse Direct Flooring
    • Watchdog Alarm / Shane Struthers

    Churches & Schools

    Generously given, regular and one-time gifts help to sustain the mission of St. Francis Catholic Kitchen & Jesus Mary Joseph Home.

      • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints / Bishop’s Storehouse Monthly Commodity Grants
      • Good Shepherd School / Volunteer workdays
      • Holy Cross Church / Parish /Young Families / Allstar Quilters for Kids / Young Ladies Institute (YLI)
      • Holy Cross School / Volunteer workdays
      • Resurrection Catholic Community / Parish / Women’s Guild / Youth Group / Knights of Columbus Council #9580
      • St. Joseph’s Catholic Church / JMJ Angels / Family Ministry
      • St. Michael’s Church / Livermore
      • Serendipity Day Care / Jill Susskind Gifts & gatherings
      • Sisters of Mercy / Sacramento / Children’s learning center furnishings, toys & books
      • Traditional Latin Mass Community / Gifts & gatherings
      • Triple P Parenting / Classes at JMJ
      • UCSC Independent Studies / Kresge College / Class projects & volunteer workdays with Instructor Franklin Williams
      • UCSC Volunteer Center / Kappa Zeta Sorority Art & Baking Classes / Sorority Group Community Days Volunteer workdays / Christmas party with Sammy Slug / Student Internships
      • UCSC VSA / Vietnamese Student Association  / Fundraiser & volunteer workdays
      • Valley Churches United / Annual Christmas gifts for soup kitchen guests

      Other Contributing Organizations

      Those in need who are being served by programs at St. Francis Catholic Kitchen & Jesus Mary Joseph Home deeply appreciate your help!


      • Chili’s / Capitola – percent of day’s receipts
      • Chipotle / Capitola – percent of day’s receipts
      • De Laveaga Disc Golf Club – tournament
      • Plantronics’ Legal Department – annual cook-off
      Grants & Awards:
      • Anonymous Family Foundation – funds for milk, socks & rain ponchos
      • FEMA / United Way of Santa Cruz County – Federal Emergency Food and Shelter Program award
      • Rotary Club of Capitola-Aptos – “Service Above Self” award
      • Rotary Club of Santa Cruz Sunrise – Community award
      Faith-based contributions:
      • Camaldoli Hermitage / Big Sur
      • Franciscan Hospitaller Sisters of the Immaculate Conception – San Jose & Los Banos Direct aid to JMJ residents
      • Italian Catholic Federation / ICF at St. Joseph’s of Capitola – 2016 Perlito Funds
      • Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Council of Santa Cruz County – Direct aid to JMJ residents