CLEVELAND (WJW) – Saint Malachi Catholic Church has a long history of of providing a lifeline to the most needy in Cleveland, and the church is trumpeting the return of one of it best traditions.

For more than 60 years, St. Malachi hosted a Monday night dinner for the homeless and needy, but when the COVID pandemic hit in March 2020, the church was forced to initially shut down the hall.

The sit-down dinner on Monday nights has been a casualty of COVID ever since.

“It was a huge impact. We’ve lost a lot of people, we don’t know where they are. I think about that every day, not just tonight. I think about that every day. I wonder where they are,” Racquel Jones, director of St. Malachi Hall, said.

During the pandemic, the mission of the staff and volunteers at St. Malachi changed. They offered carry-out dinner only and in some cases, they had to go out and search for the most needy members of the community.

They are now rejoicing because for the first time in three years, the Monday night dinner at St. Malachi Hall is back.

The first dinner tonight features prime rib donated by Outback Steak Houses and Jones’ homemade navy bean and ham soup. She told us with a big smile,

“My 20/20 vision was to bring people inside, out of the elements and it’s happening,” Jones said.

All of the outreach programs at the historic church are funded by donations, and the church’s biggest fundraiser is the St. Malachi’s Run on March 11.

The event is hosted by FOX 8’s Kenny Crumpton and it starts with Mass, followed by a two-mile walk or run and then a five-mile race.

The fundraiser is capped off by a party, known as a Hooley, at McCarthy’s.

Organizers say the $40 race donation will go a long way in healing some of the unseen wounds inflicted by COVID, including isolation.

“Take that feeling of loneliness and compound it because you’re on the streets and you don’t have a warm place to go, so this will definitely assist with that need to connect with other human beings and not be lonely,” St. Malachi’s Run director Sharon Chapman said.

Those who run the hunger programs at the church are grateful for the support of Clevelanders, whether they walk or run.

“It’s necessary, it’s needed. We can’t really function without this,” said Jones.

Anyone interested in registering for the St. Malachi’s Run can go here. FOX 8 viewers can get $5 off the registration fee by using the discount code: fox 8 2023.