Sacred Heart Parish Outreach Programs receive 2018 Caritas Awards

The award recognizes the congregation's commitment to provide help and create hope


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  • Betsy Johnston




  • The Rev. Thomas Brynes



— The Rev. Thomas Brynes, Betsy Johnston and the Sacred Heart Parish Outreach Program are among the recipients who will receive the Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange and Sullivan's 2018 Caritas Award on March 22.

The Caritas Awards are presented by Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange and Sullivan to community members who exemplify the non-profit human service agency’s mission to provide help and create hope.

Brynes, the parish's fifth pastor who has held the position since 2007, and Johnston have been instrumental in organizing many outreach programs to assist those in need, with Johnston eventually overseeing the outreach program itself.

The programs that helpOutreach programs include Our Father's Kitchen, established as the area's first soup kitchen in 2009.

At that time, as economic conditions continued to decline and joblessness became more and more prevalent, Sacred Heart Church began to consider what could be done to alleviate the suffering in Monroe and the surrounding areas.

Led by Byrnes, the parish researched the services already provided in Monroe, including food pantries at the First Presbyterian Church and the Monroe United Methodist Church.

In consultation with the Hudson Valley Food Bank, the group determined that a soup kitchen was a way to help meet the needs of those individuals and families.

Our Mother's Cupboard, another program, was based on the program Byrnes started while assigned to St. Stephen’s Parish in Warwick. The program assists mothers in need by providing baby supplies for needy children under the age of three. Items continuously sought include diapers, formula, vegetables and fruits, cereals, wipes, lotions, shampoo, portable cribs, strollers, high chairs and car seats.

Another program, the SonShine Boutique, provides the basic necessities of clothing and household items at a nominal charge, including clothing for men, women, children, toddlers and infants. Household items are also available including dishes, glasses, pots and pans and small appliances.

The parish's Blessed Mother Theresa Furniture Program provides basic furniture free of charge to the less fortunate based on donations it receives weekly, which includes requests for beds, couches, kitchen tables and chairs and dressers.

The group also runs summer lunch program, providing elementary school students in the Monroe-Woodbury School District, who are currently receiving free lunch, with a nutritious lunch. This program is designed to continue providing lunch for those students throughout the summer.

Lastly, the group runs the area's first warming station, a place where those who have nowhere to go can escape the cold, enjoy a hot meal or a bowl of soup and a cup of coffee at Sacred Heart Chapel, a heated facility where those in need of comfort can find refuge from extreme cold weather.

This program also makes referrals to agencies who can provide a more permanent solution to homelessness.

Essential informationAlso being honored are Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler, Cornerstone Family Healthcare President and CEO Linda Muller and iHeartMedia of the Hudson Valley.

“The 2018 Catholic Charities Caritas Award honorees share a spirit of generosity and commitment to collaboration that means a great deal to our agency and the people we serve,” said Dr. Dean Scher, the organization's CEO. “Thanks to their support, we’re able to lend a helping hand so that the neediest in our community have the opportunity for a brighter future."

Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange and Sullivan services include support for those suffering from addiction, as well as prevention programs for youth and adults. Case management, eviction prevention, and housing resource services are also available.

Last year, the organization served more than 42,000 individuals and families, regardless of religion or ability to pay.

The awards will be presented at Catholic Charities’ 12th anniversary Celebration of Charity dinner on Thursday, March 22 at Anthony’s Pier 9 in New Windsor.

Tickets are $110 per person, or $1,000 for a table of 10. Sponsorship and journal ad opportunities are also available.

To learn more, call Kristin Jensen, Catholic Charities chief advancement officer, at 294-5124 or email to kristin.jensen@cccsos.org.

- Nancy Kriz

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