Homeless Ministry Feeds the Poor

By Dc. Gary DiLallo
Contributing writer & photographer

This past March, Rose Blaine was out for her morning walk.  “I saw people not only sleeping on the sidewalks but rummaging through a dumpster for a meal.”  She knew she had to do something.  After meeting with the Pastor Father Richard Prior along with Kathy Hamilton, Director of Faith Formation at Our Lady of Good Counsel, “the Homeless Ministry was born.”

Confirmation students set up the serving line

Normally, Wednesdays at 9:30 AM, the kitchen assembly line fills plastic containers with donated food items.

Nine youth from the first-year Confirmation class from Our Lady of Good Counsel and Our Lady of Sorrows, along with several volunteers were helping to feed the hungry.

Seminarian John Buttner said “the youth were showing their faith in action by serving others.”

The youth helped set up tents and tables on Garfield Avenue in Endicott and placed all the food items as well as socks, personal hygiene items, handmade sleeping bags and quilts.

Deacon Ed Blaine, who drives the support van, directed the tent and table set up and said, “it’s all about diaconal service”.

The Homeless Ministry now consists of a core group of several teams of volunteers from the other churches in the parish care area and each team rotates, normally feeding 90 people each week.

Coordinator Kathy Hamilton said the parishioner donations to purchase some items comes from St. Ambrose Church, “which donates the kitchen we work in, and we distribute outside St. Ambrose School.”  Also, Nirchi’s Pizza on Taft Ave., Endicott, generously donates pizza three times a week for the Wednesday’s Lunch Box lunch giveaway.

Rose Blaine and Nadine Herteg fill containers with food as Kathy Hamilton works in the background.

Other food sponsors include Price Chopper, Wegman’s, Music for the Mission, Catholic Charities of Broome County, Meals on Wheels, Weiss Markets, OLGC Soup Kitchen, OLS Mary Meals and parishioners from the churches in Western Broome County.

Personal care item sponsors include parishioners at Most Holy Rosary, Church of the Holy Family, Our Lady of Sorrows, St. Ambrose, St. Joseph, and St. Anthony of Padua and Bomba Socks. Also sponsoring are Scarves and Mitten Ministries of St. Veronica’s Sewing Group, Our Lady of Good Counsel Knitting Group and the Red Cross.

When discussing the ministry, Kathy Hamilton said “We brought together a group of very passionate parishioners six months ago from our Roman Catholic Community of Western Broome County to serve and minister to our local people in need.”

“Our teams not only serve a free lunch weekly, but also come together sewing sleeping bags to give away.  All materials have been donated by our seven parishes in our PCA who help support our ministry.

“In the last week in June, our Summer Confirmation Classes of Our Lady of Good Counsel and Our Lady of Sorrows served 195 meals, distributed over 200 pairs of Bombas socks, 30 personal care item bags, 12 sleeping bags and lots of lollipops to the children who visited their table.

“The youth also wrote prayer cards for each lunch box that was given away.  Our hope was to give them a positive Corporal Works of Mercy experience in their local community that will last a lifetime.”

One of the young helpers said, “We helped those in need today and followed Jesus’ command to feed the hungry and give the thirsty a drink and help clothe the naked with a warm blanket.”

Anyone interested in volunteering or donating snacks or baked goods should contact Kathy Hamilton at 607-748-7417 or Rose Blaine at 607-321-7085.

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