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Holy Week: March 29-April 5

United States

Loving God, bless those who serve the poor in our own community.

First grade students from St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic school in Delmar, NY install plants in the Garden of Feedin’, a community garden. Photo: Paul McAvoy/Catholic Charities

 

Contact your CRS Diocesan Director to see where your 25% goes.

Catholic social teaching focus:

The Common Good

In order for all of us to have an opportunity to grow and develop fully, a certain social fabric must exist within society. This is the common good. Numerous social conditions — economic, political, material and cultural — impact our ability to realize our human dignity and reach our full potential.

Albany’s Story of Hope

The community garden outside the Sister Maureen Joyce Center was once an abandoned lot in a low-income neighborhood in Albany, New York. Today, it provides fresh fruits and vegetables to the center’s soup kitchen, where nearly 130 people gather three times a week for a lunch made from scratch by volunteers like Lois Keefrider.

Lois praises the Garden of Feedin’ and the fresh produce it provides. But for the people she serves, it’s about more than the food.

“It’s a whole-community aspect of being around the table,” says Lois. “Many of these people are homeless and this is their home, this is their family.”

The abandoned-lot-turned-fruitful-garden is a symbol of the center’s mission: to bring hope—and a home—to neighbors who are struggling.

Whether they’ve just lost their job, or have been battling an addiction for years, everyone and anyone is welcome. “There is no requirement to walk in the door,” says Lois, who began volunteering as a chef in 2007 to fulfill requirements for culinary school. “It was the perfect way to use my passion to create nutritious meals for people in need.”

Lois and her fellow volunteers make a special effort to ensure the meals are nutritious, knowing that for many guests, it’s the only time they’re able to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Served at every meal is a salad made with fresh greens from the Garden of Feedin’ just outside the center.

But the garden is more than a place to grow food; it brightens up a neighborhood composed of concrete, abandoned lots, addiction and unemployment.

“These people’s lives are so difficult-in a way that my sons and I can never fathom,” says Maria Barbieri, whose teenaged sons, Charlie and Michael, started the Garden of Feedin.’

“The idea that we can, in some tiny way, communicate with them that they matter, that their neighborhood matters and that they deserve to have beauty outside their window just like everyone else—that is important to me.”

In addition to the soup kitchen and community garden, the Sister Maureen Joyce Center houses a food pantry that supplies 300 households per month with nutritious food and cooking supplies. Young families with children are able to obtain diapers, formula, clothing and strollers at Mary’s Corner, the center’s ministry for young families.

The Sister Maureen Joyce Center receives funding from CRS Rice Bowl donations—from the 25 percent designated for local use by the Diocese of Albany’s CRS Rice Bowl collection.