Story and photos by Fr. Dennis Donovan, SDB
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 statewide order for persons 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.
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.
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.
At the provincial house in New Rochelle, the Salesians placed 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.
Candles illuminate the windows of the tower above the provincial house in New Rochelle, New York, to show support for health care workers, first responders, and those providing essential services.
Carmen Lopez de Linero, manager of the program, keeps an inventory of those who visit the food service at the Don Bosco Community Center in Port Chester, New York.
Left to right, volunteers Cecilia Sanchez, Carmen Lopez de Linero, and Yolanda Santana distribute the take-out dinners prepared by the kitchen workers.
A crew of volunteers prepares the dinners for take-out. They also deliver food to those who cannot leave their homes.
While those lining the street to get meals at the Don Bosco Community Center are mostly men, many bring food home for their families.
Gerardo Lopez is one amazing delivery guy, voluntarily delivering meals to those who can’t leave their home.