In the photo: City Manager Al Childress, Commissioner Lissette Carey, Tom Callahan, Mayor Teri Johnston, Vice Mayor Sam Kaufman; and Commissioner Billy Wardlow. Commissioner Mary Lou Hoover was in attendance via Zoom.

SOS Founder Commended

Mayor Teri Johnston and the Key West City Commission on Thursday commended Tom Callahan for his outstanding contributions to the community.

Tom Callahan permanently relocated to Key West from Maryland in 2006 upon his retirement from a career in financial planning. It was in this year that he co-founded the Star of the Sea Outreach Mission with St. Mary’s Church. The Star of the Sea Foundation (SOS) was incorporated as a 501c(3) in 2009.

For 15 years, Tom was a member of the SOS board and he dedicated 12 years in leadership roles as the Executive Director or CEO. Under his leadership the organization’s expansion was fueled by contributions from Monroe County as well as from private foundations and federal funds.  Walmart Foundation’s donation of more than a quarter-million dollars funded six refrigerated vehicles while the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s grants of a half a million dollars was instrumental in building the state-of-the-art community kitchen located at Key West City Hall, as well as a 13,000 cubic foot warehouse on Rockland Key.

Today, the SOS Callahan Community Kitchen represents Tom’s vision and commitment to the community by producing thousands of nutritious meals each week for children’s food programs and senior meal services.

Over the years, Tom’s volunteer services to the community leading SOS, have been recognized with the Key West Chamber of Commerce’s “Piece of the Rock” award and the American Red Cross “Florence Spottswood Humanitarian of the Year” award.  Most recently, Tom was awarded the “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal” by the Pope for his exceptional, exemplary service and personal commitment to the community through his work at the SOS Foundation.

“I’m very grateful to everyone who helps make this work,” said Callahan. “We have a wonderful group of people and without them, none of this would have happened.”

Vice Mayor Sam Kaufman commented on how important Callahan’s efforts are to the community and to non-profits who help those in need.

“SOS is relied upon by hundreds of people that have food insecurity,” he said. “They feed so many kids, so many families. We’re very proud of everything you’ve accomplished.”

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