Marchetti recognized as hero for work at Pawtucket Soup Kitchen

Marchetti recognized as hero for work at Pawtucket Soup Kitchen

Adrienne Marchetti, executive director of the Pawtucket Soup Kitchen, located at 195 Walcott St., will be recognized later this month by U.S. Congressman David Cicilline as a “Female Hero” at his annual Women’s Luncheon. (Breeze photo by Melanie Thibeault)

PAWTUCKET – Adrienne Marchetti says she doesn’t think of her role as executive director of the Pawtucket Soup Kitchen as a job, but rather as a part of her life.

“This is how it is every day for these people. A lot of these folks have been disappointed,” said Marchetti, of North Providence, who’s been in her current position for 11 years. “If they need me, I’m here seven days a week.”

For the work that she does for the Pawtucket community, Marchetti will be one of six women honored by U.S. Congressman David Cicilline as a “Female Hero” at his annual Women’s Luncheon. The event will be held virtually on Tuesday, June 30, at 1 p.m. via Zoom.

“She’s so deserving of (the recognition),” Laureen Grebien, vice president of the Pawtucket Soup Kitchen Board of Directors and wife of Mayor Donald Grebien, told The Breeze. “She’s such a giving, selfless individual.”

While board members beg her to take time off, she always finds a way to help out somewhere even if the kitchen is closed, said Grebien, who’s worked with Marchetti for the past 11 years.

Being recognized by Cicilline “speaks volumes” since he sees so many women in the state excelling, she added.

In addition to Marchetti, actresses Debra Messing and Alyssa Milano are among the six women being honored. A portion of the event’s proceeds will support the R.I. COVID-19 Respond Fund and the Pawtucket Soup Kitchen.

Marchetti was serving lunch downtown when Cicilline called her to tell her about the honor, adding that she’s still processing it. “I feel humbled and honored,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it. … I said ‘you must have made a mistake. I’m just a cook.’ … It’s such an honor to be among all those women doing great things.”

When asked if she considers herself a hero, Marchetti said, “No, not at all. I just do what I do … to make the world a little better than it was the day before.”

Marchetti, who used to work in construction where she said she saw a lot of folks abusing substances, began working at Amos House in Providence, a social service agency that today manages the largest soup kitchen in the state.

Everything she needed to know how to do in her current role she learned at Amos House, she said. She’s now been working in this industry for more than 30 years, “which is sinful if you think about it,” she said. “I want (people) to not need a place like this.”

“Here we see such misery and heartache,” she added. “Every day you get your heart broken. I hope before I die I get to see an improvement for all these folks.”

Every day Marchetti prepares and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner while filling out paperwork and handling crises in between, she said. Except for Saturdays when she starts at 3 a.m., she begins her days at 5 a.m. and works until 7 or 7:30 in the evening.

After serving dinner at the soup kitchen, Marchetti delivers food to folks at the encampments along the Seekonk River. “You just do it,” she said. “Just like the Nike commercial said: just do it.”

Since the coronavirus pandemic began in March, Marchetti said she’s been even busier than normal as the need for meals has increased. “There are so many people that need food, it’s incredible,” she said.

The number of meals served from last year to this year has gone up 33 percent, which is a lot, Marchetti said. In May of this year, they served more than 5,400 meals, and they’re on track to serve more this month.

Many places used to serve lunch or supper one day a week but have taken a break during the crisis, creating more demand on the Pawtucket Soup Kitchen, Marchetti said. They’ve also picked up slack to help provide other items, such as hygiene products, because some social service agencies are closed or case workers aren’t as accessible right now, she said.

Aside from Marchetti, all the work at the Pawtucket Soup Kitchen is done by volunteers, who range in age from 3 to in their 90s.

Before the pandemic, Marchetti said, she had 75 volunteers helping her a week but when the crisis started she scaled back to five a week.

She said she’d like to thank the board of directors, volunteers, and donors who make it possible for her to do what she does. “It’s a team job,” she said. “We have a really good team.”

The soup kitchen, located in the basement of St. Joseph’s Church, 195 Walcott St., can always use cash donations, Marchetti said, and there is a list of items they need on their website at www.pawtucketsoupkitchen.org under the How to Help tab.