Jamaican restaurant owner offers Arms of Hope in Florida
Driven by a desire to help the less fortunate, Jamaica-born restaurant owner, Patrick Livingston, has been using his charity Arms of Hope to provide hot meals for the people of Lake Worth Beach in West Palm Beach, Florida, free of cost.
The 57-year-old Kingston-born man operates the Above The Sea restaurant in the city, and has been providing the free service for almost a decade without fail.
“We are not just here for the people who are homeless, but for the folks, to prevent them from becoming homeless. We try to take the stress off those folks,” Livingston told The Gleaner.
On a daily basis, persons in need can visit the restaurant for a hot meal, canned goods and fresh produce. The service is especially appreciated by many persons, some of whom have lost their jobs or have suffered reduced income because of the onset of the corona virus pandemic.
His work has not gone unrecognised, and the city of Lake Worth recently awarded him with a proclamation in honour of his charitable work.
Livingston migrated with his parents to the US at the age of 10, and after matriculating through the education system, worked in the fast-food industry upon his graduation from college. After working for a few years and learning the rudiments of the business, Livingston embarked on starting his own pizza franchises, but the road was filled with obstacles.
Close to being homeless
“I owned a few franchises in Port St Lucie, Stuart, Delray Beach and Lake Park. I came close to being homeless myself, after losing all of that. So I know the struggle. I could so easily be there,’ Livingston said.
He said his first charity project involved assisting a young male who had a chemical abuse problem.
“I started helping a young man who was suffering from addiction. He has been drug-free for nine years now. Helping others has been fulfilling to me and I enjoy being of service to others,” he said.
And there is no need for financial reward.
“The reward I get is the rush from giving. It really keeps me afloat in life. Times are getting harder and, especially now, people need to have that helping hand to help them get through, to give them hope and to let them know that someone cares and will be willing to make sacrifices without wanting anything in return,” Livingston, who is a devout Christian, said.
Livingston’s Arms of Hope partners with Restoration Bridges and other charitable organisations, to keep the feeding project afloat. He also gets canned goods and produce from major retail outlets such as Walmart.
“I am grateful that I have the health and means to be of assistance to those in need, and I will be continuing on this path,” he said.