ASTORIA — Instead of stepping into a brick-and-mortar building to receive assistance from Catholic Charities of Brooklyn & Queens (CCBQ), clients can now walk into the agency’s RV stationed outside a designated church in the Diocese of Brooklyn.
The mobile service started this week. An RV from the agency will be stationed outside a different parish to offer social services to the local community three days a week. The idea came from discussions CCBQ staff had with clients last year at its food pantry at Our Lady of Solace in Coney Island, according to Richard Slizeski, CCBQ’s vice president for mission.
“We’ve seen the need, but the issue has been … getting out into different places, so there’s some exposure because we recognize our brick-and-mortar places are few, so this is more of an attempt to be out in the community and be very visible and to have people who are here to answer questions,” Slizeski said.
On Nov. 6, CCBQ parked its RV outside Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Astoria. CCBQ workers walked along the church parking lot, handing out flyers to passersby who were bundled in jackets. Next to the workers was the RV that served as an indoor office for anyone seeking financial or immigration assistance.
“People don’t know the breadth of Catholic Charities services, we have so many,” said Debbie Hampson, director for community program services. “This is another way of us letting people know what we have.”
Filing into a line past the RV were students from CCBQ’s ESL (English as a second language) program. They were given flyers about other social services that might interest them.
Jorge Martinez, the Colombian-born immigrant who has completed one year of English courses, said he is thankful for the extra help.
“The program is great. I am very happy learning English,” Martinez said. “ I’m happy they’re here helping the people. I’m so happy.”