As we move into the fourth month of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are faced with record unemployment, longer lines and more and more guests in need of healthy food and vital social services. We continue to respond in the true Vincentian way — to serve all who come to us as if we were serving Christ among us.
The unemployment rates are staggering; the worst our country has seen since the Great Depression. And yet, even as some individuals begin returning to work, we are still faced with growing numbers of hungry among us. As I write this, we have seen a 153% increase in food distribution since March 23.
We’ve developed ways to ensure that our vulnerable community members, home-bound seniors, and those who have been victims of domestic violence receive the services they rely on. We’ve formed informal partnerships with groups like Union Pool, Hungry Monk Rescue Truck, and the Community Fridge Project to ensure those who are not in our immediate area have access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and nonperishable pantry staples. We continue to serve the elderly members of our community at the Rogosin Institute and the Wonderful Life senior program. We support the Red Hook community through our partnership with Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church who run a weekly pop up distributing food to the elderly in the neighborhood. Our social service department continues to respond to emergency cases and has secured more than $500,000 in benefits. We know more and more will be asked of us as an organization going forward, and I believe that we are up to the challenge.
As we look toward the summer, Bread and Life will be present in the community to meet the ever-growing needs of our neighbors. We also know we are facing a greater challenge — one that calls us to stand with our Black brothers and sisters for systematic, transformative change, and work peacefully towards equality, justice, and fairness. We will continue to be a voice for the voiceless in our community and join with others to ensure that every person is treated with the dignity and respect, and we pray that the change we all seek will be one of true, transformative change.
As Fiscal Year 2020 ends, we take this opportunity to thank all of the foundations, corporations, and individuals who have supported us during this unprecedented year, and we ask for your continued prayers during this time.
Sr. Caroline Tweedy, RSM