Cecile Pagliarulo 2017-11-08 22:39:04
PATERSON Day in and day out, when someone is in need of food, a family is about to be homeless or a person simply needs someone to talk to, Catholic Charities agencies in the Diocese are there for tens of thousands of people in need. And now one of its own agencies is in need for a helping hand from caring Catholics in the Diocese. On Nov. 2, a fire broke out at the Father English Center here, an agency of Catholic Family & Community Services (CFCS), resulting in the total loss of its food pantry and clothing boutique. The People’s Choice Food Pantry at the Father English Center is one of the most important programs that Catholic Charities provides for the community. The pantry feeds more than 4,000 of the neediest families in the area each month. The clothing boutique assists families in need of clothes and shoes and has also helped those in need of a suit for a job interview or a child in need of a First Communion outfit. On Monday, Nov. 13, CFCS will reopen the Father English Food Pantry at a temporary relocation site, the Culinary School at Eva’s Village on 133 Prince Street here. Christine Barton, executive director of CFCS, said, “The relocation site is ideal. It is only two blocks away from the current site, is already approved by the Paterson Health Department and fortuitously empty for the next two months. We will begin receiving deliveries of donations at this site, tomorrow, Nov. 10.” A smoke condition was first noticed at 11:30 a.m. last Thursday by staff members walking through the bingo hall where they saw and smelled smoke coming from the stage area. A staff member quickly pulled the manual fire alarm and all three buildings were evacuated safely within three minutes. The stage of the Father English Center is adjacent to the food pantry. The loss of the food pantry because of extensive smoke and water damage is a devastating blow to Catholic Charities, especially with the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, which are the busiest for the pantry, just weeks away. Barton said, “Even during these trying times, we know that there are many blessings. There were no injuries and the fire was contained quickly thanks to our fast acting staff and a very quick response from the Paterson Fire Department. Catholic Charities will use this opportunity to rebuild, and possibly even expand, the food pantry to meet the needs of the people.” The building’s structure is intact and all the shelving will be replaced but the center needs to replace furniture, equipment and all of the stock of both perishable and non-perishable foods and frozen meals. With Thanksgiving a few weeks away, staff at the food pantry had just begun collecting the needed food for the holiday. “All of it was lost,” said Barton. “So we ask that if you’ve already given, please give again, and if possible, give a little more. If you have the means to help us in our rebuild, then please give to this fund as well. All of what you give will serve people in need who depend on the food pantry and clothing boutiques to survive.” The food pantry is one of the oldest food pantries in the area and its staff is credited with creating the innovative “People’s Choice Food Pantry,” an approach that restores the dignity of choice to clients of the food pantry. Instead of providing a bag of selected foods, the clients experience a food market-type setting with shopping carts and a variety of groceries for them to personally choose what items they want and need. With more than 4,000 visitors to the Father English Food Pantry each month, about roughly 100 clients come each day to get needed food at the pantry. The food pantry is stocked by generous donations from the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, parishes throughout the Diocese and community groups throughout northern New Jersey. More than one million pounds of food are distributed throughout the year. Each year, special distributions are held for Thanksgiving and Christmas when more clients seek food for the holidays. Barton said, “We are working hard to assure that the food pantry is ready for Thanksgiving food distributions and to assure that our clients will have food to celebrate this holiday.” [To learn more about how to help with rebuilding and restocking the food pantry, call Maria Malave de la Paz, (973)-279-7100, ext. 2103 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.]
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