Student Forums
A journal of social practice & professional engagement for the Antioch community

Serving the Community at Martin’s: Axel Slowe ’27 at Martin de Porres House of Hospitality in San Francisco

Martin de Porres House of Hospitality, or Martin’s, is a free restaurant – essentially a soup kitchen that isn’t limited to just soup. You can find their website here: Martin’s runs lunch from Monday to Saturday and has breakfast Tuesday through Friday. For the lunch service, each day has a recurring soup, usually with an accompaniment of salad, bread, a dessert, and sometimes something else such as croutons or fruit. Breakfast changes somewhat from day to day, but it is often oatmeal, pancakes, and cereal, with perhaps some fried or roasted potatoes or even a tofu scramble. We also run showers, restrooms, a charging station, and once a week, a free clothes store in addition to doing our best to meet any concern that someone might have. 

I try to do my best to help with everything above, but I do have my weak points and strong suits. My favorite thing to do is help people on a more personal level with what they need, oftentimes charging something or getting them dog food. Something I have been getting better at, and will continue to improve upon during the rest of my time here is talking to the people here. I can now approach people with confidence, and I will certainly continue to make more meaningful connections with the community. This is without a doubt my greatest weakness though. My strong suit is my work in the kitchen though, where I like to pick up any slack, whether I am on the serving line or dishes. I will often wrap additional spoons in my spare time, and dry dishes as well if I am serving takeaways. 

The typical day for me starts with about 3 hours of preparing food, then usually serving on the line or takeaways, or dishes if we are short. We then close, and make sure everything is ready for the next day. I like serving the most though, because I enjoy the opportunity to talk with our guests. One interesting thing I have picked up on, in addition to some of the preferences of regular guests, is understanding people’s body language and gaze. Something that I had a pretty difficult time with early on was communicating with many of the guests, either due to a language barrier, them being neurodivergent, or any other reason. Learning this has helped me to better understand and serve this community, which to me is invaluable. 

Overall though, there are three main goals that my time at Martin’s is helping me to accomplish. The first and most important is helping the community. I love when I can help people with whatever they need, and also give people respect that unfortunately is not given to them elsewhere. The second goal that I am reaching for is just improving communication with other people. During my time at Martin’s I have gotten better at communicating with everyone working alongside me, which has also allowed me to multitask and know where help is needed. The third goal, which is quite important for me personally is gaining confidence and getting better at approaching and talking to people. This is something that I struggle with, but it is also something that is very important for me to get better at. I am glad to say that I have definitely made progress on all of these goals. My time at Martin’s has been really helpful thus far, and I have really enjoyed it. I look forward to the rest of my time here.

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