SVdPD Special Works Update – July 2020https://secureservercdn.net/188.8.131.52/ix9.a0e.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/news-featured.png?time=160410226710001000St. Vincent de Paul DetroitSt. Vincent de Paul Detroithttps://secureservercdn.net/184.108.40.206/ix9.a0e.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/svdp-logo-circle.png
We knew something was going to happen. The news from New York state was not good. The COVID19 pandemic had brought that state to a halt, and at our pantry, we started to plan for our continued operation. On March 23rd, our governor called for the complete shutdown of the state and the introduction of social distancing. We put our plans into action which included redesigning our pantry food delivery system, implementing a new “home visit” approach, and including our community partners and parish support system in our reconfigured approach to helping our neighbors in need.
Our volunteer, Joe, lent us a large tent which we erected outside our usual pantry address on New Street in Mount Clemens. The tent gave us high visibility from both New and Market Streets. While it was pretty cold those first few weeks, our neighbors still found us. We made a lot of new friends during that period as the supermarkets were low on everything – not just toilet paper – and a lot of people found themselves unemployed. The unemployment checks had not yet kicked in and the stimulus checks were still on the way.
Since the students had been sent home from college, we were fortunate to have some young, strong and willing volunteers to supplement the twenty or so core volunteers who continued to come to the pantry dressed in their masks and rubber gloves. But the tent got to be an issue as we erected and took it down each day. Father Michael Cooney, pastor of St. Peter’s Church in Mount Clemens, agreed to let us use a garage on the property for our new pantry. With this new location, we changed our hours from two hours-per-day, three days a week to three hours-a-day, two days a week. The transition went very smoothly and we got out of the May snow storms!
With home visits off the table during this period, we initiated a community outreach program. From our database, we generated a list of more than one thousand persons who have visited our pantry over the last two years. We then divided this list among ten volunteers who called to “check on” our neighbors, to remind them that the pantry was open, and to invite them to let us help with their current needs – be it food, rent or other financial needs. The response from our neighbors was overwhelming. Many live alone and were very appreciative of the offers of help, but also with the human contact as these calls provided hope and consolation to those who are lonely and depressed.
To follow through with our commitments to assist our neighbors, we rely on our parish family and St. Mary’s School families for spiritual and financial support. Among the community partners that stepped up to assist us were local merchants, businesses, and the Meijer Corporation. With their assistance, we were able to work with the Macomb Food Program and Forgotten Harvest to continue to obtain canned food, fresh fruits and vegetables, and fresh meat and dairy products for distribution. One stipulation of the Macomb Food Program is that we must give food to everyone who comes to the pantry. This requirement expanded our usual assistance boundaries into Detroit, Warren, Roseville, and other nearby communities.
As of the three- and one-half months since we began under our new guidelines, we have served over seven hundred families, totaling over one thousand five hundred individuals. That’s what St. Vincent de Paul has been doing for over 110 years in Mount Clemens – and we’ve got the certificate to prove it! We pray every day that Jesus helps us to be generous with our time, our possessions and ourselves in this mission of charity.
God Bless, stay safe and remember, we are in this together with Jesus.