Although the holidays certainly looked different this year, it is my deepest wish that you all had a peaceful and joy-filled time with your loved ones — whether at home, or from afar.
First, I wanted to mention the wonderful response to our Parish Outreach Thanksgiving Collection. You all gave so generously. These funds will go to new supplies for our ministries, vehicle maintenance, transportation costs, food, re-housing assistance for people in need and so much more. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!
Christmas Giving Tree
I’m delighted to share that this year, our Christmas Giving Tree program served 420 children in Monroe and the surrounding area. Wow.
The Christian Service Committee also received very generous donations to put together gifts for the homebound in our community. This was my first experience with a program of this size and it was quite a ride — but it was guided every step of the way by wonderful volunteers and members of the parish.
Thanks to your efforts, every child received at least two gifts from their wish lists — including new hats and gloves donated by Mayor Stephen Welle of Harriman and Peruvian Trading Company.
Several times, parishioners came to the office asking for more gift tags and I realized all of them were gone and that the tree had to be refilled. At the last minute, we had additional families ask to be added— and even these requests were fulfilled.
I feel truly blessed to have witnessed such a beautiful outpouring of love from this parish.
The efforts of Boy Scout Troop #540 and their parents
Gifts were distributed with minimal contact so as to mitigate COVID concerns. We were aided by some great Boy Scouts from Troop #540 and their parents, who diligently took presents from the parish office to each family’s car. A great group of people including Ellen Kirk, Nancy Seliga, Maribeth Sarno, Jean Kenny, Nora Douthit, Mike Foley, Claudia Cortez, Joe Varcadipane, Jim Banville and Kenneth Kohrs made the day possible with their time and energy putting together gifts and directing traffic.
Our SonShine Boutique put together two special Christmas sales this season that raised more than $2,400 for Outreach. It was a wonderful success. We truly could not do what we do without the Boutique’s amazing volunteers and their thoughtful efforts every week to maintain a pleasant, safe thrift store for the entire community.
The food pantry
Each week, Our Father’s Kitchen Food Pantry serves roughly 120 families with boxes of food distributed from the convent. We have a superb team of volunteers who make this immense task possible by donating their time every Monday and Wednesday to serve with us.
If you are looking to help, we can always use donations of cereal, pasta, spaghetti sauce, macaroni and cheese, jelly, peanut butter, canned tuna or salmon, pancake mix, pancake syrup, canned vegetables, and canned fruit. These are some of our staples which we give to families frequently, so we go through them fast. They can be dropped off Mondays or Wednesdays from 8 to 10a.m. at the convent— or call the parish office to arrange a different time.
Housing insecurity continues to be a top stressor that many in our community face. With the pandemic still making its impact on the country and wavering eviction freezes, many families and individuals who cannot afford rent are given no choice but to leave their homes and try to find new ones in the midst of a crisis.
As you can imagine, this is an incredibly difficult cross to be burdened with. Rent continues to increase, but wages are low and families struggle to make ends meet — sometimes taking on two or three jobs. At Parish Outreach, we try to be emotionally present for all of these families going through hard times and use what resources we have to help them get through.
I want to say a very special thank you to longtime parishioner, Marge Duane. In our hour of need, Marge responded to a call for help and housed a beloved member of our parish facing housing insecurity. Marge housed this parishioner for six weeks in her spare bedroom, and the two of them fostered a beautiful friendship during this time. We will never forget your inspiring kindness, Marge.
Many thanks also go to the Ruscito family, Kevin Donoghue, Mike O’Hare, Nancy Seliga and the men of our Mother Theresa Furniture Program for helping to get a new apartment ready for this parishioner. They did this out of the goodness of their hearts — and thanks to all of them, this parishioner now has a secure place to call home.
God’s grace and compassion
If I forgot to mention anyone, my deepest apologies — but know that you are all in my prayers and that I truly enjoy getting to know all of you each day. Here’s to a new year and new opportunities to spread God’s grace and compassion.
Director of Parish Outreach