By Jennifer L. Warren
NEWBURGH – As much as the Pandemic has taken away from many of us, it has provided countless, priceless lessons, involving connection, altruism, and humanity.
Last Wednesday, proof of how people uniting from different agencies can make a tangible impact could be seen outside of 280 Broadway in the City of Newburgh. Here, Catholic Charities officially announced their partnership with the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley as well as much appreciated fiscal assistance from St. Joseph’s Parish in New Paltz, pledging to provide integral food as well as coats, hygiene items, and other supplies to those residing in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster Counties. The stepped up lending hands initiative, titled “Feeding Our Neighbors Campaign,” will offer drive by, contactless pop up food pantries, and is yet another effort of local, not-for-profit agencies diligently working to meet the evolving, far-reaching and critical needs of those in the area as the Pandemic continues to alter lives in numerable, challenging ways.
“We are responsible for one another; we are all God’s children,” affirmed Father Salvatore Cordaro, Pastor at St. Joseph’s Parish in New Paltz. “We are not just individuals, but part of a society that needs to take care of one another, and ask for help when we need it.”
That giving gesture has been at the core of Catholic Charities’ mission, ensuring people were secured with vital basics, even before the Pandemic hit. Since the onset of the virus, that focus has only been amplified. Tracing back to last March, the agency has provided 158,000 meals to 6,800 households across three counties, while resiliently adjusting to its ongoing commitment to provide emergency assistance programs and essential services to those in need. The partnership with the Food Bank, along with generous grant from St. Joseph’s Parish, will enable even more to be done.
“The drive-thru pantries will allow for increased size and frequency of food distribution for those in need,” explained Shannon Kelly, Deputy CEO &COO of Catholic Charities.
With four in ten people now visiting food banks which are serving 80% more people than they did just one year ago, 15.6% of Americans experiencing food insecurity, and the brunt of the cold winter season upon us, this expanded food availability becomes even more pressing as well as appreciated. A few elected officials, including New York State Senator James Skoufis, were on hand Wednesday, lending remarks of gratitude.
“Yes, there has been a lot of heartbreak during this Pandemic, but I have also seen people really step up and give and give; I am proud to stand alongside them,” affirmed Skoufis, referring to those people and agencies as “lifelines” to their communities. “This is a great way of community organizations coming together to develop innovative ways to get support to residents in need.”
One of those residents taking advantage of the varied offerings of the booths set up in front of 280 Broadway was City of Newburgh resident, Marie Polyearpe, who found out about the event through a friend.
“This is very, very helpful because we are all in need in some way with the Pandemic,” said Polyearpe. “This morning I have gotten some very key, helpful information about local resources here as well as needed food, socks and clothing; I’m very appreciative and thankful for everything available here today.”
The mission continues on February 4, 2021, when the first official pop up food pantry is scheduled to appear at 396 Broadway in Monticello, outside of the Catholic Charities Building. Many more similar pop ups are tentatively scheduled. To learn more on their details, you can visit the Catholic Charities Website at: www.cccsos.org. Also on this site, you can sign up to volunteer at one of these pop up pantries as well as make a secure, online donation toward critical food; just one dollar can help provide at least four meals, making a huge difference. A helpline email is also available at: firstname.lastname@example.org for those requiring food and other emergency assistance.
“We all have something to give,” said Father Cordaro. “It all makes a difference in some way.”