The homeless feeding program at the Dededo Senior Center was canceled Wednesday following complaints of vandalism and fighting by some of the patrons of the program.
The program provided meals for the homeless in the island’s most populous village. It was sponsored by the Archdiocese of Agana Ministry to the Homeless.
Dededo Mayor Melissa Savares was off island Wednesday, but Vice Mayor Frank Benavente told The Guam Daily Post the program was shut down because the senior center was being damaged and there was violence among some of those who attended.
Benavente said “they vandalized the building, they broke the faucet (and) threw their trash all around.” Sometimes, he said, they started fights.
“It’s a temporary setback,” said Doris Royal, the program coordinator. “We still want to continue the program.”
She said it's not a matter of money but finding a new location.
Royal said it was Savares’ decision to shut it down. She is waiting for a letter from the mayor that she can give to the archbishop who will officially announce that the Dededo Senior Center feeding location has been closed.
“A lot of people have expressed concerns about where are the people in Dededo going to eat now,” Royal said.
She said the feeding center at the Kåmalen Karidåt location in Hagåtña is still operating seven days a week.
They're working on opening a feeding center in Tamuning, as soon as next week. Royal declined to specify the location for the new feeding center. An agreement is expected to be reached soon and she hopes the new location can be announced by this weekend.
Royal said she was aware of only one incident of vandalism at the Dededo center, although she acknowledged that fighting sometimes breaks out when people come to the center “drunk or high on something.”
“It’s basically people who are coming in intoxicated,” Royal said. “The policy is to turn them away for the safety of the other people in there because we do cater to families and children as well."
The Dededo center was providing free meals four days a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Royal said up to 40 people typically showed up for a meal at the Dededo Senior Center. That number climbed to 80 or more near the end of the month when many “are out of food stamps and maybe going through hard times.”
“We welcome people even though they’re not homeless,” Royal said.
“If we can find another facility in Dededo we’d be more than happy to resume the feeding program up there.”