Responding to Crisis

For several hours every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, our downtown food pantry is open to the public. People filter in, wait in the small lobby and leave with about a week’s worth of food. The clients are local residents, people who live within the district designated for our pantry. Because of the pantry’s central location downtown, we occasionally field people from other parts of the city who are then directed to their own neighborhood pantry for assistance.

Most days, the pantry is primarily staffed by volunteers. Hank, John, Chris and Zona are regulars with a lot of institutional knowledge; Hank has been volunteering since 1986, when the building housed the Cathedral’s Emergency Services office.  

“Usually it’s the end of the month that gets busy like this,” John commented last Tuesday while bagging bread in the back room of the pantry. There were several people waiting in the lobby and the bread supply was low because Zona, who usually sorts it, had been called away.

“He’s right, you know,” Hank agreed as he walked by in search of baby formula. “We’re not supposed to be this busy today!”

“No accounting for it,” said Chris, darting to a shelf to pull down a box of rigatoni. On the way she grabbed a bag of bread. “But we’ll get them all set.”

And they did. No one left without a box or directions to their neighborhood food pantry. Some needs are more complicated than a box of food, and when that happens, the volunteers help connect people with any other services they might need such as rental assistance, help to buy prescription medications, financial assistance with electric bills, and more.

The overarching goal of Emergency Services is to assist people out of whatever crisis they are facing. Much of our work there is aimed at keeping people housed; we know from experience that stabilizing a family or individual becomes much more complicated once they have experienced homelessness. Our Emergency Services work to alleviate immediate stresses and get people on their feet. From there, we can work with them to increase stability in their lives and build their capacity to support themselves and their families.

The work at our Emergency Services, Men’s Shelter, and Dorothy Day House Shelter for Women and Children is possible because of the support of donors and volunteers like John, hank, Chris and Zona. As the cold winter months draw near, bringing with them extra challenges for all of our clients, we thank everyone who so generously supports these programs. Together, we’re creating hope and transforming lives in our community. 

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Posted by Bridget Dunn, Communications Coordinator

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