Written by Robin Dempsy, Chief Program Officer
I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy as we practice social distancing and hunkering down.
If we haven’t met, my name is Robin Dempsey and I am the Chief Program Officer. As the Chief Program Officer, I have the privilege of working with case managers and staff in each of our seven programs. During my tenure at Catholic Social Services I have also had the privilege of working directly with clients, and I have seen firsthand just how much of a difference your support makes in so many lives each day.
Catholic Social Services main office, shelters, and food pantry look much different than the last time you may have visited. Our staff are geared up with masks, gloves, face shields, and other PPE, thanks to many generous donors. We are all practicing social distancing, and our main office is quiet with many staff working from home. Saint Francis House Food Pantry has moved to the front area of our main office, where there are markers keeping clients at a safe distance, and Plexiglas between staff and shoppers. Our shelters are staffed with medical personnel who are screening residents and employees each day, and the shelters stay full the during the day, while residents hunker down.
Some days, the sight of these precautions can bring on a sense of fear. We have never operated this way. Our halls are usually filled with laughter, high fives, and hugs. Right now, the office halls are quiet. The sight of doctors and nurses in full PPE at the shelters, clients and staff with face masks and gloves can surely cause concern.
On these difficult days, I’m reminded that sometimes you must look past the masks, shields, and gloves. Past all the PPE and the distance between you and another, is the hope and perseverance within our programs that is so apparent that it seems almost tangible. Despite changes and challenges, one thing remains – the resiliency, hard work, and enduring spirit of our staff and supporters. As I talk to employees through facemasks, standing 6 feet apart, I am reminded of our mission and the dedication our team has to that statement. We compassionately serve the poor and those in need, strengthen individuals and families, and advocate for social justice. This is what we do, what we have done, and what we will continue to do for our community, thanks to you.
With the support of the community, our case managers have either permanently housed or supported over 200 individuals from losing housing since the hunker down order. Saint Francis House Food Pantry has completely reworked their operations and there has been a 30% increase in new shoppers. Brother Francis House and Clare House continue to provide safe shelter for residents, and space for them to hunker down. Refugee Assistance and Immigration Services is continuing to support clients and is ensuring that resources are accessible to all, while Family Disability Services and Pregnancy Support and Adoption Services serves clients virtually.
I cannot express how grateful I am to our donors and our staff, and how inspired I am by their dedication. We have already done so much, and we will continue to serve our community, despite what challenges may arise. We are resilient. We are Catholic Social Services.