Caritas of Port Chester,
Inc., recently debuted a new website, http://www.caritasofportchester.org/, to help spread the word about the organization,
which provides food and clothing as well as financial counseling to families in
need in Port Chester and the surrounding communities. Volunteers also teach English
language classes to immigrant day laborers and young mothers.
The Homepage includes details in both English and Spanish for potential clients on the programs available to them.
“The website contains information for those needing our services, but also gives anyone interested in volunteering with us or donating to our organization a place to find out what we do and how they can help,” explained Board President Patricia Walsh Hart of Rye. “Our history is there, as well.”
Caritas of Port Chester, Inc. offers most of its services at the Don Bosco Center at 22 Don Bosco Place in Port Chester. ESL classes are taught next door in the church hall under Holy Rosary Church.
“In 2012 we acquired 501(c)3 status for Caritas of Port Chester, Inc. and moved all of our programs under this one umbrella organization to better serve our clients,” said Executive Director William Vaccaro of Port Chester. “We can qualify for additional grants and awards that weren’t available to us before.”
Serving the needs of the community directly began in 1995 when a group of parishioners and the leadership at Holy Rosary noticed that some of the new immigrants who had joined the church were very poor. Their first solution was to offer a Soup and Sandwich Supper a few evenings a week. This led to bags of food handed out to families, and the start of a food pantry.
Today, the Food Pantry distributes bags of supplemental food to 550 households each month. In 2012, the Soup Kitchen served over 39,000 meals which included a hot breakfast and lunch five days a week and a cold breakfast on Saturdays; almost 15,000 individuals received gently used and new clothing through the Open Closet; 50 families in crisis received assistance with eviction prevention; and over 100 ESL classes were taught to an average of 40 students.
“We see the need growing every day,” said Vaccaro, who is also the deacon at Holy Rosary. “We make the most of our limited resources. We partner with the Food Bank for Westchester to get items for the Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry at the lowest prices. We have generous donors in our community and, thankfully, in the towns and churches nearby.”
“A large number of our clients continue to be new immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries who need our assistance in getting established and assimilating into the American culture,” he explained. An emphasis is placed on assisting young mothers with children
Volunteers supplement the handful of paid employees. The website’s “Volunteer” page indicates exactly where the organization can use assistance. “We have plenty of adults who join us, but we can always use more,” said Hart.
Caritas of Port Chester is happy to provide volunteer opportunities for students who need community service hours to fulfill a requirement for school or a religious ceremony, such as Confirmation or a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. “We enjoy having the young people join us to pack the food bags or sort and distribute the clothing. Others assist in food prep and serving in the Soup Kitchen,” she added.
The “Donate” page provides instructions on how to make a monetary donation and allows for directing the gift to a specific purpose. Visitors will also find information on donating food and clothing, as well as other items needed to help administer programs, like office equipment.
To learn more about Caritas of Port Chester, Inc. visit http://www.caritasofportchester.org/.