By Tim Harfmann
Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens was called heroes by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
“They went and sought someone that was not on their radar and said, ‘Hey, we’re here for you to get you over this turbulent period,’” Adams said.
This time, the agency came to the aid of federal workers locked out of their jobs – and paychecks – for more than a month by the government shutdown. The act earned Catholic Charities the recognition as Heroes of the Month.
“The wonderful thing about it is it reaffirms the work we do every day, which is to meet the needs of people where they’re at,” said Richard Slizeski, Catholic Charities’ vice president for mission.
Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens operated two special food pantries, one in each borough. Nearly 600 workers shopped supermarket-style for everything from food to toiletries.
“Watching mother and child go from station to station, looking for their daily essentials, was truly touching,” said Joanna Shkreli, who is a member of the catholic agency. “Just seeing the families really put a face to the problem.”
Filled With Hope
Catholic Charities handed out vouchers to people for gasoline and to shop at local supermarkets as part of their effort to help federal workers. They also distributed Target gift cards.
Shkreli said today’s honor made a big impression. “It was a really emotional day filled with hope,” she said.
Helping Furloughed Workers
Although Adams honored Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens for coming to the aid of furloughed workers, he also said the agency makes a difference every day in the lives of thousands.
“That’s so important,” he said. “It’s often ignored. We did not want to ignore it, and we wanted the rest of Brooklyn and the city to know about it.”
Another agency member, Jennifer Smith, was humbled.
“It’s gratifying and it reminds me that we have to look around and see who the most vulnerable in our community is, and we’re here to help them,” said Smith.