PATERSON, NJ- St. Paul’s Episcopal church has been fulfilling the spiritual needs of Paterson residents by putting their motto "Faith; Hope and Love” into action for more than 200 years, and on Saturday, with the help of over 200 volunteers including those from Christ Church in Teaneck, St. Clements of Hawthorne and St. Paul’s of Englewood, they once again showed their call to service goes beyond filling their pews, by feeding over 700 people a full Thanksgiving meal.
“We are committed to be open for all and to continue to feed the hungry and provide housing for the homeless,” Reverend Erik Soldwedel said in an email after the successful lunch. The church, standing majestically at 451 Van Houten Street, also contains a men’s homeless shelter and, showing their commitment to their neighborhood, recently hosted the inaugural meeting of the Van Houten Block Watch Association.
At the center of much of the church’s community outreach and improvement effort is the St. Paul’s Community Development Corporation (SPCDC). Launched in 1990, the non-profit now, according to their website, provides various human service programs to more than 6,000 families and individuals annually, including adult basic education, workforce development training, and affordable housing.
Serving as the Lead Community Partner Agency at New Roberto Clemente Community Middle School and Full Service School 15, SPCDC, in partnership with Paterson Public Schools, has in recent years worked to establish after school and summer programming, educational support classes for parents, volunteer engagement opportunities for facility upgrades and beautification projects, and, most recently a new Food Pantries in Schools Initiative in four Paterson schools.
Celebrating their efforts at a dinner earlier this month, SPCDC continued to raise funds for their programming including the donation of $15,000 from Travelers for technology upgrades at School 15 and $10,000 from the Turrell Fund to expand the food pantry initiative.
The highlight of the evening, according to SPCDC Executive Director Richard C. Williams, was the special recognition bestowed on graduates from New Roberto Clemente Middle School, including Kayley Luciani Perez, Yaneris Rojas, Alexas Rogers, and Rut Acevedo, who were founding members of the Young Donors Club. Established in 2014, the Young Donors Club provides students the opportunity to give back to their community by raising money, collecting donations, and donating time for worthy causes such as Meals with a Mission.
“Even with the improvements in our national economy, many of the communities that we support continue to struggle under the weight of unemployment, underemployment and stagnant wages,” Williams, told TAPinto Paterson previously. “It is important for all of us at St. Paul’s Community Development Corporation, particularly during the holidays, that we provide support to as many in our community as possible, and that the support provided maintain a quality of service and a dignity that uplifts the spirits of those who seek us out.”
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