CHRISTUS Our Daily Bread’s Kitchen Manager and resident cook, Cesarea Sandoval aka Cissy, is the heart of the building, evoking memories and creating new ones with every meal prepped.
The way to the kitchen is simple: after walking through the double doors, or side door, you walk past chairs set in the main meeting area like checkered squares of a chessboard. Once inside the tint on the windows protect those inside from the searing heat and accosting humidity. From there the kitchen is straight shot towards the back of the building.
This is where she spends the majority of her time. As a team of volunteers help her serve the underserved, pouring hope, love and good intentions into scores of plates, addressing clients with humility and good cheer.
From Running Errands to Establishing a Career
The Hitchcock, Texas native co-owned a Mexican restaurant that closed, with her sister. After the closing, the sisters found themselves running errands to get medication for their mother, which led to a clinic where Cissy noticed an Our Daily Bread Calendar. While at the clinic, Cissy convinced her sister to visit Our Daily Bread.
“I noticed some beautiful calendars and asked where they were from and we were told they came from Our Daily Bread, said Cissy. “When we came to Our Daily Bread, Sister Ursula asked if we would both like to volunteer, and I agreed.”
Cissy started stocking the pantry, cutting vegetables, washing dishes and running errands. During that time the head cook was in the process of leaving OUR Daily Bread almost as if by divine design, opening the door for Cissy to accept the official job as the head cook.
“Our Daily Bread has taught me to expand my want to serve with love and dignity to the less fortunate, just like my father taught me,” said Cissy.
Her father, Bernabe Sifuentes was a labor recruiter and a cook himself, who taught his children that to love people wherever they are, is paramount. He taught Cissy the simple values of a good Christian life, of which loving her neighbor was priority number one.
“He taught us to give of ourselves always and to make room for God no matter what we did in our lives,” said Cissy.
Over 15,000 meals served at CHRISTUS Our Daily Bread last year alone is a testament to two things; Cissy’s culinary prowess and a dedicated number of volunteers, who like Cissy’s father, believe in giving of themselves litigiously.
“I don’t know how we would be able to get through a day without our dedicated volunteers,” said Cissy. “They help build a second family here at the Daily Bread.”
Cissy makes it a point to be as welcoming as possible, always.
“I do the best I can every day, said Cissy. “You get to see the light that was once gone out in their eyes, reignited, their joy returned in their hearts and their faith restored in humanity. One man attempted to get a refill of tea and I stopped him and told him I’m here for you, so allow me to serve you. That’s my job and I am honored to do it.”
That kind of response elicits a reaction from some clients driving them to tears.
She is committed to making a difference. There is a natural flow to her compassion. Each plate, touch on the shoulder or short conversation is a testament. It is almost as if they are all humanizing condiments available only at Our Daily Bread, morning, noon and evening.
“I welcomed a couple inside for lunch one day but they hesitated because they weren’t registered here,” said Cissy. “I assured them that they should come in and get a hot meal. They agreed and after eating they thanked me for asking them indoors to eat because they were very hungry.”
Cesarea was one of eight; two sisters and five brothers, a mother of four children; one boy and three girls and grandmother to eight grandchildren; four boys and four girls.
Today, Cissy continues sowing hope with every ladle of soup. Volunteers help her and other staff members serve more than 75 people per mealtime. Cissy contends that God always provides. It is her hope to continue to provide a good meal for anyone who needs it.