The Assumption Parish in Syracuse, New York, USA, where the friars have served for over one hundred years, is well known as a center of service for the poor.
This is especially true when it comes to feeding the hungry and assisting those who are ill. The goal of the friars, parishioners, and volunteers, in the words of St. Francis, is to, “heal wounds, bind what is broken, and bring home the lost.”
The food pantry at the parish provides needed food for individuals and families five days a week. Those seeking assistance are normally given boxes filled with enough food to last five days (fifteen meals). In April of 2022, the pantry served 270 children, 474 adults and thirty-four seniors. The food pantry gets much of its food from grocery stores, which often donate fruit and vegetables that are too old to sell. It also obtains food from food banks (larger charitable organizations that collect food for the poor) and from individual donations. The pantry also depends upon the generosity of a large core of volunteers who collect, sort, package, and distribute the food.
In association with the food pantry, there is also a soup kitchen. It provides meals (usually soup and one other item) to anyone who is hungry. The soup kitchen serves the elderly, the underemployed, recent immigrants and refugees, and, unfortunately and all too often, small unaccompanied children. No documentation is required to receive this assistance. In April, the soup kitchen provided 3,827 sandwiches and 2,385 bowls of soup. Both initiatives are administered by Doctor Daniel RYAN.
The Assumption Parish also has a clinic for those in need of basic medical care. Known as the Poverello Health Center, the clinic is staffed by volunteer doctors and nurses, along with volunteer medical and nursing students who assist them. It provides clinical examinations, medical care, classes on dealing with particular physical problems, such as diabetes, and more. During the recent Covid pandemic, the clinic provided vaccinations. Recently, it added an essential service: it now provides Narcan, a drug that can save the lives of those who have overdosed on opioids. The health center was founded in 2000, by Sister Dolores BUSH and Sister James Peter RIDGEO, both members of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Newman Communities. The clinic mainly serves the uninsured as well as undocumented immigrants who fear going to hospitals or other medical centers because they might be reported to the government.
Friar Jude WINKLER