Working together: Catholic parishes contribute, collaborate to help those in need
According to a survey conducted by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, individuals who are members of the 69 Catholic parishes throughout Vermont participate in significant outreach and service to the greater Vermont community. One hundred percent of Catholic parishes in Vermont serve people who are hungry by conducting food drives, providing free meals, operating or donating to food shelves, and offering vouchers or direct financial aid.
Ninety-one percent of Catholic parishes in Vermont serve people living in poverty by providing vouchers and other forms of financial aid, having clothing drives, and operating thrift stores. Ninety percent of Catholic parishes in Vermont serve those who are ill or infirm by supporting residential care homes or nursing homes, providing support services in family homes, serving in hospitals or health clinics, and providing financial support. Fifty-seven percent of Catholic parishes in Vermont serve those who are experiencing homelessness by supporting housing services and shelters, providing transportation, and offering vouchers and other financial support. Twenty-eight percent of parishes in Vermont serve those who are or have been imprisoned through ministry outreach within prisons, financial and material support for those who have been recently released, and mentoring and education programs.
Catholic parishes throughout Vermont value the programs and services that already exist throughout the Green Mountain State and strive to support and collaborate with other organizations, such as Brattleboro Retreat, COTS, McClure-Miller Respite House, Hardwick Area Food Pantry, John Graham Housing and Services, Northeast Correctional Complex, Rutland Rehab, Vermont Food Bank, and many more.
The Catholic Church is recognized as the largest charity in the world, operating more than 140,000 schools, 5,000 hospitals and some 16,000 other health clinics. Catholic Relief Services has provided aid to 130 million people in more than 100 countries on five continents since it was founded in 1943. In America, Catholic Charities USA serves millions of people each year through activities such as housing, healthcare and disaster relief. Most of the 200,000 Catholic parishes throughout the world operate their own small-scale charitable projects, and the parishes of the Diocese of Burlington are doing their part to fulfill the mission of helping the most vulnerable among them.
The following statistics and examples are based on data from those Catholic parishes who responded to the 2019 Social Outreach Survey.
100 percent of Catholic parishes in Vermont participates in service to those who are experiencing hunger.
91 percent of Catholic parishes in Vermont serve those experiencing poverty.
90 percent of Catholic parishes in Vermont serve those who are ill or infirm.
57 percent of Catholic parishes in Vermont serve those who are experiencing homelessness.
28 percent of parishes in Vermont serve those who are or have been imprisoned.
Catholic parishes in Vermont serve those who are experiencing hunger by sponsoring food drives (82 percent of parishes), providing free meals (54 percent of parishes), operating or donating to food shelves (22 percent of parishes), and offering vouchers or direct financial aid (65 percent of parishes).
Lisa Grover and Connie Goodrich, members of St. Peter Church in Vergennes, belong to a core group of about 10 parishioners who prepare and deliver fresh, home cooked meals to anyone who needs them, such as those who are elderly, homebound, or ill. “We’re not four-star chefs by any means,” laughed Grover. “But we are doing exactly what the bible tells us: Feed the hungry.” Some people require just a few meals, while others benefit from extended help.
Frank Russell and Mary Ann Church, members of St. Elizabeth Church and St. Anthony Church, respectively, are among volunteers from Our Lady of the Valley Parish, Christ Church, United Church, and Miller Church at the Bethel Area Food Shelf to address food insecurity in Bethel, East Bethel, Gaysville, Stockbridge, Pittsfield and Barnard.
Catholic parishes in Vermont serve those who are experiencing poverty by providing vouchers and other forms of financial aid (60 percent of parishes), having clothing drives (29 percent of parishes), and operating thrift stores (13 percent of parishes).
Jon Walker and Daniel Heter, members of All Saints Knights of Columbus Council #2610 in Richford, helped with the Knights of Columbus Coats for Kids project, which raised approximately $1,000 to purchase winter coats for 43 children in need of winter outerwear. The children attend Richford Elementary, Berkshire Elementary, Enosburg Elementary, and Montgomery Elementary.
Lori Daudelin, executive director of Joseph’s House in Burlington, explains that the outreach center serves 35-50 households each month. Support includes utility and rent assistance, bus passes, food cards, laundry vouchers, hygiene products, clothing vouchers, compassionate listening and other situation specific needs such as a pair of steel-toed boots a man needed for his job.
St. Andrew Parish in Waterbury is one of three churches comprising the ecumenical Community Action Service Team (CAST) which helps people in Waterbury and the surrounding area. “Laundry Love” is one of the services that CAST provides, supplying quarters to those who need them at a local laundromat on one Wednesday each month.
Faith Parkins, a member of Our Lady of Good Help Church in Brandon, is one of many local Catholics who volunteer at John Graham Housing and Services in Vergennes. She offers support in many ways, including providing transportation for those staying in the agency’s shelters or low-rent subsidized apartments to get to doctors’ appointments, mentoring young women, making and sharing meals, connecting residents to the local Hispanic community, finding interpreters for residents who don’t speak English, and listening and conversation. “She brings hope and cultivates resiliency,” said Peter Kellerman, co-director of John Graham Housing and Services. “Faith brings a warmth, a can-do attitude and a kindness that has been a gift in direct services to people,” said Kate Schirmer-Smith, the other co-director.
Joanne Nelson, a member of the Essex Catholic Community and director of justice and mentoring programs for Mercy Connections in Burlington, oversees the provision of unique approaches and support for a range of individuals, mostly women who are in transition from treatment court, prison, addiction and/or mental health services. Mercy Connections’ Vermont Women’s Mentoring Program partners with the Vermont Department of Corrections to support women transitioning from Vermont’s correctional facilities. Nelson emphasized the importance of helping women make decisions that will keep them out of jail.
Ginny Carroccia, a member of St. Alphonsus Church in Pittsford, coordinates a Backpack Program to benefit Rutland Dismas House and the individuals who were formerly in prison who live there. Parishioners of St. Alphonsus donate money to purchase backpacks and donate items including soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, chapstick, shampoo, socks, coffee, paper towels, dish detergent and toilet paper to fill them. The backpacks and their contents help people transition to live outside of prison, since many don’t have anything.
Catholic parishes in Vermont serve those who are ill or infirm by supporting residential care homes or nursing homes (75 percent of parishes), providing support services in family homes (63 percent of parishes), serving in hospitals or health clinics (51 percent of parishes), and providing financial support to those who are ill or infirm (33 percent of parishes).
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Middlebury helps remove barriers to receiving medical care by partnering with a Mobile Medical Van that is provided and staffed by Mountain Health Center in Bristol. The van parks in the church parking lot two days each week. The mobile unit and federally qualified health center provides access to services that patients may not otherwise receive, including the Medication Assisted Treatment Program for opioid and alcohol dependence, help for substance use disorders, counseling and recovery coaching. “Providing these services to the community is important because opiates have ravaged Vermont and our country,” said Father Luke Austin, pastor.
The Catholic Church in Vermont partners with and supports other organizations to best serve those in need. Vermont’s Catholic community partners with or supports the following 144 organizations:
- Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital
- ANEW Place
- Ave Maria Community Cares Home
- Bennington Health & Rehab
- Birchwood Nursing Home
- Black River Good Neighbors
- Brattleboro Retreat
- Burlington Food Shelf
- Burlington Health & Rehab
- Canterbury Inn
- Cathedral Square
- Catholic Relief Services
- Centers for Living & Rehabilitation
- Central Vermont Medical Center
- Champlain Islanders Developing Essential Resources
- Charlotte Food Shelf
- Christian Service Committee
- Converse Home
- Community Cares Camp
- Community Cupboard
- Copley Hospital
- Country Park
- Craftsbury Community Care Center
- Crescent Manor Nursing Home
- Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
- Dayspring Pregnancy Care Center
- Derby Green
- Dismas House
- ElderwoodNursing Home
- Essex Jericho Underhill Food Shelf
- Ethan Allen Residence
- Feed My Starving Children
- Fillmore Pond
- Forest Hill Community Care Home
- Franklin County Rehab
- Gathering Place
- Gazebo Senior Living
- Genesis Elder Care
- Gifford Hospital
- Giordano Manor
- Good Neighbor Fund
- Good Samaritan Haven
- Greater Bennington Interfaith Food and Fuel Fund
- Greensboro Nursing Home Habitat for Humanity
- Hardwick Area Food Pantry
- Have-a-Heart Food Shelf
- Haven food shelf
- Heavenly Pantry
- HIS Pantry
- Hinesburg Food Shelf
- Holiday House
- Holton Home
- HOPE Food Shelf
- Janet S. Munt Family Room
- Jericho Food Shelf
- John Graham Housing and Service
- Johnson Food Shelf Breakfast on Us Program
- Joseph’s House
- St. Joseph/KervickResidence
- Knights of Columbus
- Kurn Hattin Homes
- Lamoille Food Share
- Lamoille Home Health
- Lamoille Homeless shelter
- Lamoille County Mental Health
- Loretto Home
- Mad River Valley Interfaith Council Fund/Food Shelf
- Mad River Valley Senior Center at Evergreen Place
- Manor Nursing Home
- Maple Lane
- Martha’s Kitchen
- McAuley Square
- McClure-Miller Respite House
- Meadow View Memory Care Center
- Meadows Nursing Homes
- Meals on Wheels
- Menig Nursing Home
- Michaud Manor
- Middlesex Community Residents
- Northeast Correctional Complex
- Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital
- Northern State Correctional Facility
- Northwest State Correctional Facility
- Northwestern Medical Center
- New North End Food Pantry
- Newport Health Care
- North Country Hospital
- Our Lady of Providence Residential Care Facility
- Our Lady of the Meadows
- Our Place Drop inCenter Parks Place
- Pittsford Food Shelf Pine Heights
- Porter Medical Center
- Porter Nursing Home
- Richford Ave Maria
- River’s Edge Nursing Home
- Rutland Regional Correctional Center
- Rutland Regional Medical Center
- Rutland Rehab
- St. Albans Rehab
- St. Brigid’s Kitchen & Pantry
- St. Johnsbury House
- St. Monica Food Shelf
- St. Vincent de Paul
- Salvation Army
- Samaritan’s Purse
- Small Potatoes
- Special Olympics
- Spectrum Youth
- Springfield Rehab
- Starr Farm
- Sterling House
- Southeast Correctional Facility
- Southwestern Vermont Medical Center
- The Colchester Community Food Shelf
- The Pines
- The PolattaMemorial Fund
- The Rehab Center
- The Residence at Otter Creek
- The Village at White River Junction
- The Waterbury Inn
- Thompson House
- Tim’s House
- Union House
- United Way of Lamoille County
- University of Vermont Medical Center (pastoral care)
- Valley Terrace
- Valley Vista Rehabilitation
- Vergennes Residential
- Vermont Catholic Charities
- Vermont Food Bank
- Vermont Right to Life
- Vermont Veteran’s Home
- Vernon Green
- Vernon Hall
- Wallingford Thrift Shop
- Waterbury Food Shelf
- Waterbury Senior Center
- Williston and Richmond food shelf