Friends of the Poor Director's Appeal

Sr. Ann Walsh, IHMFall 2016

Dear Friends,

I’ve been thinking of you all as we move into fall with all of its vibrant natural color and blessings. I hope you’re holding up in this unprecedented election season. I know that you represent the best of our good and generous country, and when our citizens come together again after the last vote is cast, it will be because of people like you, who never forget that mercy and justice are the hallmarks of discipleship. We are called to love the poor.

This summer, Friends of the Poor marked another milestone. Our Clothes Line for Men suited its 1,000th man. Imagine! It was three years ago when Bonnie Haluska embraced the concept and agreed to coordinate the program. She recruited a team of dedicated volunteers who eagerly took on the new project. You took this effort into your hearts and soon stacks of fine, gently used suits, slacks and outerwear came streaming in. The men we serve come to us from homeless programs and veterans’ programs. They can be refugees and men leaving prison. Many of them seek decent job-interview suits and clothes to wear to work. Others need clothes for special occasions and significant events. The volunteers always make sure to assist them with dignity and respect. Amidst tears of joy, gratitude and transformation, the men leave not only with new clothes but also with a new spirit and sense of self. The success of this program is your success. Thank you.

Our food pantries continued to serve hundreds of individuals and families every week. We were able to offer fresh vegetables in our food bags. Through a grant from AmeriHealth Caritas, the Valley View Terrace Community Garden was planted, tended and harvested to produce delicious tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, lettuce and watermelon. At the same time, the summer lunch program for children was more like a picnic this year at all of our locations, thanks to picnic tables and benches that were made by the students of the Career Technology Center. We served at least 75 children every weekday.

Our summer day camps were another success, especially Camp Connections at Keystone College, which served 60 kids from three to 11 years of age. The six-week camp engaged the children’s parents in its education enhancement efforts. On the final day their entire families were hosted at an on-campus luncheon where the kids performed songs and showcased exhibits of age appropriate science, technology, engineering and math projects.

About 100 kids took part in nine separate camps, including sports camps at McDade Park, fishing camp at Bear Creek, theater camp at the Scranton Cultural Center, and two week-long adventures at Comm Camp in Waverly. There was even a Sweets & Treats camp at Note Fragrances! In July, Kate Welby, a student at Scranton Prep, coordinated a two week camp, Run in the Sun. The students gathered our children at the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Trail for the perfect mix of fun and fitness.

Friends of the Poor sponsored family field trips to a RailRiders game and Montage Water Park. A free Family Fun Day was held at Marywood University where more than 300 people enjoyed games, face painting, balloon sculpting, crafts, a DJ and picnic food. That event was planned to mark the year-long 30th anniversary celebration of Friends of the Poor, as a “Thank you” to the community for 30 years of support.  It was so much fun we may have to hold another fun day next year!

Then as summer ended, we hosted both Back to School Giveaways and Free Produce Markets in collaboration with the Weinberg Food Bank at four family developments of Scranton Housing Authority.

Now we’re heading deep into fall and our annual Thanksgiving Program. We start at 12:10 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21, with the Interfaith Prayer Service at St. Peter’s Cathedral. From there we’ll move into our Thanksgiving dinner the following evening at the Scranton Cultural Center for those who are elderly and alone in our community. We expect to serve up to 2,000 dinners (including take-outs) again this year. Then, on Wednesday, we will join Linda Robeson and her son, Ryan, for the Family to Family Program. They are preparing to distribute 3,000 turkeys with all the fixings to provide needy families with Thanksgiving dinners.

Also this fall, we are also looking forward to the Pancake Breakfast at Applebee’s on November 5 to benefit the Msgr. Anthony C. Marra Memorial Fund. And the following day, the 7th Annual Turkey Trot 5K/10K Run sponsored by TCMC will take place. Please check our website and Facebook page for more information about these events.

I end this letter as I began with a heartfelt sense of gratitude. Thank you again for all you do. You have a continuous remembrance in my prayer and the prayers of our IHM Sisters. Nothing you have done or will do for God’s most beloved will ever go unnoticed.

Wishing you a happy and blessed Thanksgiving,