The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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April 20, 2001 Issue
Local News

Diocesan parishes support Green Bay shelter

Volunteers serve meals and make donations to help the community's less fortunate

By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor

Last year, the New Community Shelter of Green Bay served more than 46,000 hot meals to men, women and children of the community. The shelter expects to serve even more this year, and it would not be possible without the support of parishes from the Green Bay Diocese.

"We wouldn't be able to offer our meal program without the churches," said Amy Arndt, development director at the shelter. "We work with the social concerns committees. They are the ones that make the program work."

Parish volunteers cook and serve meals at the shelter. They have the option to bring in their own food or prepare meals from food items available in the shelter kitchen.

"Many bring in their own dishes," said Arndt. "They know what they want to serve and how to make it. They do a wonderful job."

Arndt estimates that 20 diocesan parish groups regularly serve as meal program volunteers.

A group from St. Willebrord Parish, Green Bay, serves meals at the shelter the first Wednesday of each month.

"We have a few different groups that rotate," said social concerns committee member Peggy Helander, who coordinates the meal program volunteer groups at St. Willebrord's. "We try to serve family style. It takes more people to set the tables and serve the food, but it is worth it. We have found that with the cafeteria style, the people would eat and leave. The family style works out beautifully. The people sit and talk. They deserve to be treated with dignity, and we are the ones to do it."

The volunteer groups from St. Willebrord's include Hispanic parishioners, RCIA candidates, and recently, high school students preparing for confirmation.

"The high school kids really enjoyed it," said Helander. "They asked me to please call them again. We have so many great people who are willing to help. They all work together."

Volunteers from St. Mary Parish in De Pere serve meals at the shelter the third Monday of each month.

"It's not hard to find people to do it," said Roberta Schantz, a bookkeeper at the parish. "It's hands on and they enjoy it. A lot of people bring their kids. We also have a lot of couples that volunteer."

In addition to supporting the meal program, St. Mary's also reached out to the New Community Shelter during Lent through financial donations.

Every two years, the Feinstein Foundation, a national anti-hunger agency puts up $1 million and will match any donations collected between March 1 and April 31. The New Community Shelter is participating in the campaign.

"We donated our collection from Ash Wednesday to the matching program," said Schantz. "We have envelopes in the church. People are responding to it very well. The fact that every dollar is matched has helped to encourage donations."

Government and county funds are not enough to finance the meal program, said Arndt. Donations and volunteers are needed.

"Every dollar counts," she said. "There is a woman who sends in a check for $10 every month. All the small donations add up. Donations are restricted. There are no administrative costs, so every dollar goes directly to the program."

In addition to donations, more volunteer groups are always needed, said Arndt.

"The number of meals served continues to rise each year," she said. "Many of the elderly come to socialize. We also saw an 18% increase in children last year."

"Many of the people we serve do work," she continued. "They don't make enough money for food, so we offer bag lunches for people to pick up and take with them. The shelter's budget would not allow us to provide these much needed services to the community. We couldn't make it work without the support from the area churches."

The New Community Shelter is located at 409 North Broadway Street in Green Bay. For more information on the services provided by the shelter or volunteer opportunities, call (920)437-3766.

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