New York has quickly become the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak in the USA. There, the Salesians continue to do all they can to help respond to this new tragedy.
The Don Bosco Community Center, one of only a few food pantries in the Village of Port Chester, is providing an average of 230 meals a day to support persons who can’t otherwise shop because of the state-wide order for everyone to stay in place and the closure of local businesses.
Fr. Patrick Angelucci, pastor of St. John Bosco Parish, said, “God is sending us people who need food. I met with the Salesian community, and we made a decision to take $10,000 out of our community savings to help the soup kitchen in this crisis.”
The extra demand on the program is costing about $2,000 a week above what it normally costs to run the program throughout the year. “In this crisis, God is sending these persons to Don Bosco, and Don Bosco would never turn his back on a person in such need,” explains Fr. Pat.
The provincial house in New Rochelle was equipped with bright LED bulbs in each window of the tower as a sign of support to health care workers, first responders, and those providing essential services.
Carmen Lopez de Linero, a volunteer, oversees the operation of the food pantry and organizes the distribution of food, which begins each weekday at 11:30 A.M. She is assisted by a team of volunteers who sort food, cook, prepare food packages, and deliver food to persons unable to visit the pantry.
Normally, individuals would be able to come into the dining room for a cooked meal. The social distancing requirements have changed their operation to take-out service. The number of people coming for assistance has increased over the last four weeks.
In addition to the food program, St. John Bosco Parish provides awareness of prevention measures, home delivery of food, making and distributing masks, online counselling, online classes, transport of the sick to hospitals, and resources for accommodation of the sick or homeless.
It is only through the bravery and dedication of many volunteers that this essential care for the community is able to take place
Salesians throughout the province, in the United States and Canada, are doing their best to help those affected by the coronavirus. Eight communities out of sixteen are offering social services. Several offer online learning or live streaming of religious services.
All six high schools in the province offer a full day of classes using distance learning programs. Over 1,400 families benefit from the food programs offered across the province. All are practicing the safety protocols of distancing and staying in place, while making these efforts to support others.