By Ashlyn Mitchell
MOBILE, Alabama (WALA) — A new banquet and catering hall is coming to Mobile and helping local nonprofits is on the menu.
The project is headed by Port City Samaritan’s founder, John Kozlinski. Our crews go a sneak peek at the building’s progress on Government Street.
“It’s a passion of mine to remove the myth of homelessness. These are amazing people- I’ve had so many amazing experiences with those that were displaced,” said Kozlinski.
Kozlinski has made it his life mission to help those in need… specifically those who are displaced.
“They want to go to work and the challenging impact is how are you going to get a job when no one is going to hire you if you smell, or you’re worrying what you’re going to eat that day?” said Kozlinski.
He co-founded the nonprofit, Port City Samaritans, back in 2022. It’s a safe haven warehouse for those lacking housing.
“We began to help women and children living in their cars, people who need hotels temporarily, people that need furniture or clothing or appliances- we just kind of became a go-between to be a good samaritan,” he explained.
Just a quarter-mile from the warehouse, Kozlinski is now giving an old, empty church building on Government Street new life.
Kozlinski has dubbed the hall with a very special name inspired by his grandson.
“Zander’s Banquet’s and Catering… it’s after my amazing grandson, Zander who is my pride and joy and the reason for being. He was actually born a hundred days premature so he’s very lucky to be alive. I want to leave a legacy for him- not just grow up and accumulate wealth for your own self to leave a legacy,” he said.
He says his vision for the dining hall far exceeds its four walls.
“One of my biggest desires is to heal the racial divide in the city of Mobile.. I don’t think much gets done on all the other problems if we don’t heal the racial divide and much of that is breaking bread together… sitting down with someone from a different race and find out how many things we have in common.”
And, Kozlinski says the plan is to open up job opportunities within the hall where staff will receive hands-on culinary instruction… and instruction for life.
“We will have people who are displaced that we can put into housing, put them to work, put them to work at other different organizations, and really impact their lives… one person at a time,” he concluded.
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