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St. Mary’s Outreach and Combating Hunger

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Three of the goals of St. Mary’s, which were included in the Parish Profile developed by our Search Committee as a preliminary step in its discernment process, involve: reaching out to the community; broadening the involvement of youth in the parish with intergenerational activities; and focusing and increasing participation in local, national and international outreach efforts, while continuing to support our sister parish in El Salvador.

Given that the Outreach Committee has limited funds to disburse each year, it has decided to direct its support to a smaller number of worthwhile causes that are consistent with the parish’s goals so that our dollars have a greater impact. Presently, the Outreach Committee has identified combating hunger as its most compelling ministry and has committed to addressing this need on a local level by continuing to fund the Miracle Kitchen program run by the Framingham Salvation Army and supporting area food pantries where the demand is the greatest in recent history.

That hunger is an epidemic in our communities is borne out by the following statistics… • The number of Massachusetts residents who are hungry or at risk of going hungry has jumped to 660,000, a 20 percent increase in a single year, according to Project Bread. • The Greater Boston Food Bank, serving more than 545,000 residents in eastern Massachusetts, has seen a 23 percent increase in clients in the past four years. Thirty-two percent of GBFB’s clients are children. • The Newton Food Pantry served 473 residents (220 families) in September 2010, a 21 percent increase from last year. The Wellesley Food Pantry serves an average of 160 families each month; Needham serves 170 families. • The Catholic Charities Food Pantry in Dorchester says it now hands out 12,000 pounds of goods each week, four times as much as it used to distribute in a month. • This Thanksgiving, the United Way doubled to 5,000 the number of dinners it delivered in Greater Boston.

Going forward, to achieve greater transparency for members, friends and family of St. Mary’s, the Outreach Committee will: • Welcome any parishioners as new members of the Outreach Committee. (If interested, contact Mary Ellen McAndrews at memcandrews@comcast.net.) • Articulate and communicate our strategy of support, updating our constituency as the strategy evolves. • Inform our constituency about the various organizations and causes we are supporting. • Seek opportunities for “hands on” involvement of parishioners to leverage our funding of these organizations and causes with particular emphasis on participation by our youth. • Complement the outreach activities of The Women of St. Mary’s by taking into consideration their disbursement decisions and by seeking to align our respective programs. • Invite our parishioners to submit requests for funding the organizations and causes they celebrate and to otherwise involve themselves in our Outreach Committee activities.

To eliminate any confusion, this Mission Statement applies to funds disbursed by the Outreach Committee of St. Mary’s. The Women of St. Mary’s independently distributes the proceeds from the Foods ‘N Fancies Bazaar.

While St. Mary’s financial resources are finite, over and over it has been demonstrated that the time and talents of our parishioners are boundless. For those seeking to aid the hungry directly, here are several suggestions:

1. Contribute to the Newton food pantry by depositing goods in the gray wooden boxes in the narthex. Their wish-lists include canned fruit, toothpaste, tooth brushes, soap, tissues, toilet paper, shaving cream and condiments such as mayonnaise or mustard. 2. Contribute foodstuffs, money or grocery store gift cards directly to the Greater Boston Food Bank located at 99 Atkinson Street and 70 Southbay Avenue in Boston. For information visit www.gbfb.org or call (617) 427-5200. GBFB is the largest hunger-relief organization in New England and supplies more than 50 percent of the food to the Needham and Newton food banks. Wellesley’s food bank sources directly and does not use GBFB. You can contact the local food banks directly to donate or volunteer by calling Sandra Robinson (Needham) at 781-444-2415; Phyllis Chait (Newton) at (616) 527-2394; or Cynthia Scott (Wellesley) at (781) 235-1188. 3. Join the loyal cadre of St. Mary’s parishioners and friends who serve monthly at the Salvation Army’s Miracle Kitchen. For information, contact Andrea Gordon or Beverly Hurney. 4. Participate in the annual Walk for Hunger, the nation’s oldest continual pledge walk, which funds Project Bread, the state’s leading anti-hunger organization that supports more than 400 emergency food programs. 5. Assist in serving meals at Rosie’s Place, a sanctuary for poor and homeless women located at 889 Harrison Avenue in Boston (617) 442-9322, which offers emergency and long-term assistance to women who have nowhere else to turn. For information, contact Jane Sabin or Peggy Scott. Beth Gardner can also share her experience working in Rosie’s Place’s kitchen at Thanksgiving.

In addition to these ongoing programs, occasional opportunities to provide meals include the B-Safe program (contact Alicia Bowman or Maryjane Burgess) or a planned participation in Common Cathedral (contact George Stevens.) Special thanks go to Amy Campbell for all of her research on hunger statistics and issues.

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