DeGroot, Social Concerns Ministry Director for St. Laurence Catholic Church, has been helping with FBFP for about four years. "We wish we could clone Pennie," says FBFP Executive Director Vera Johnson. "She is just filled with energy and great ideas and is constantly finding creative ways for St. Laurence volunteers to help our families. She sees a need and makes sure it gets met. That's how Pennie's Pantry started."
As a support congregation, St. Laurence does not host families in their facilities, but provides financial and volunteer support. Regular financial contributions are used to provide housing assistance for families transitioning between the shelter program and their own homes. Families may have a short gap before their housing is available, and moving them into temporary housing frees up space for a new family from the waiting list to enter the program.
DeGroot recently responded to the need for additional funding to power up our Day Center by coordinating a special black bag collection that raised more than $9,000.
DeGroot also provides overall coordination for St. Laurence volunteers who support FBFP families through:
* Cuddle Kits -- volunteers provide a stuffed animal, book and blanket in a cloth bag to be given to each child on their first night in the program. These kits help the children feel safe as they adjust to their new surroundings.
* Pennie's Pantry -- Every Monday, non-perishable food items are brought to the Day Center to provide families with breakfast, lunches and snacks.
* Furniture Donations -- DeGroot facilitates the donation of used furniture, which is a huge help to families who are moving into their own home.
* Family Faith -- Volunteers from the congregation adopt a family for the weekend, providing and sharing with them breakfast, lunch and dinner.
* Birthdays -- Congregation members coordinate birthday parties for children in the program.
DeGroot's favorite memory of working with FBFP is touring the facility and meeting the fabulous staff, but she's also really looking forward to seeing the new Day Center opening soon. She says she encourages others to support FBFP because "you are directly helping homeless families regain their dignity and independence. It's just a blessing."
We are so grateful for Pennie DeGroot and all of our wonderful supporters at St. Laurence Parish! Your help is invaluable.