Magazine: The Essential Item
Late last year, Mike Shirek, Treasurer of St. Matthew 367 in St. Paul, Minnesota, spoke with the Fraternal Outreach Team about a Feeding God’s Children event that provided face masks for nearby retirement homes. Many consider face masks to be an essential item in the fight against COVID-19.
As the pandemic raged across the Midwest, St. Matthew 367 sought to help in any way possible. Volunteers sewed masks and made Christmas crafts consisting of ornaments, window decorations, and Christmas cards for the residents and staff of a retirement home. The idea came from a parishioner at the Church of St. Matthew who became aware of a growing need for face masks in Minnesota nursing homes.
“The project was the creation of Becky Montgomery who did the planning and material purchasing along with volunteer and delivery coordination,” said Mike. “We proved that our volunteers could respond to a need in the community while ensuring that everyone remained safe. It also proved that, in a year where events were curtailed or canceled across the country, our mission of outreach could be maintained by the generosity, spirit, and skills of our dedicated people.”
Seniors living in retirement homes across the country faced many unforeseen difficulties last year. Of all the challenges they faced, access to face masks remained vital. Sometimes, all it takes is one person – or in this case, a small group of volunteers – to make a difference for them. Had it not been for St. Matthew 367, its local nursing homes would have had to look elsewhere to supply their residents with face masks.
“This would not have been possible if not for the small group of volunteers that made it happen. With the holidays in full swing, they found a way to combine their traditional family activities and come together, on short notice no less, to fulfill the needs of others who have been isolated from their loved ones due to COVID restrictions,” said Mike. “Furthermore, they managed to sew more than 40 masks and make a generous assortment of Christmas decorations and cheerful Christmas cards. All this happened in just 15 days.”
St. Matthew 367 took Christmas festiveness and combined it with the charitable spirit of Feeding God’s Children.
“St. Matthew 367 takes its role as caretaker of Catholic Order of Foresters resources seriously as we think of ways to engage our members for their benefit and that of the community in which we serve,” said Mike. “One of those resources is the Feeding God’s Children program which has given us the tools, encouragement, and support needed to make a difference in the community.”
To Mike, Feeding God’s Children events provide feelings of happiness and fulfillment to all who participate. “I have gained an abiding sense of fellowship with my partner volunteers along with a renewed desire to continue our local outreach efforts in support of the wider Feeding God's Children mission."
Article by Connor McEleney and Michael Cesario