SALSTHON is honored to announce St. Patrick's Center in East Wilmington as its 2017 beneficiary. Founded in 1971, St. Patrick's Center provides emergency food, meals, respite for the homeless, clothing, and transportation for people in need on Wilmington's east side.
Situated within the walls of a former Catholic elementary school, every floor of St. Patrick’s Center serves a specific need in providing for basic human needs like nourishment and clothing to the poorest and neediest individuals and families living among us in Wilmington. “It’s not pretty, but what we do here is beautiful,” said St. Patrick’s Center Board Chairman, Michael McDermott SALS’1992.
Like Mr. McDermott, many Salesianum, Padua, and Ursuline alumni who live and work in Wilmington serve on the board of St. Patrick’s Center and are members of the St. Patrick’s Day Society. Their willingness to serve comes from a deep understanding of the need that exists in the neighborhoods that surround downtown.
The USDA currently defines Wilmington’s east side as a “food desert,” meaning that the area lacks access to affordable and nutritious foods. St. Patrick’s aims to meet this need through its food distribution program, which allows individuals and families to collect food bags every 14 days in addition to a farmers market every Thursday and Friday. “The food that we are able to provide our clients is meant to be supplemental, but for many it’s all that they have and they have to make that food stretch,” said St. Patrick's Center Executive Director, Sr. Danielle Gagnon, RSM.
That’s where SALSTHON 2017’s partnership comes in. The current location of the food distribution program on the third floor of St. Patrick’s center presents both space limitations and logistical challenges. Every morning the St. Pat’s food truck arrives with food donations from partner supermarkets and suppliers; the food goes up on the building’s old elevator and comes back down with its clients. “We are not in the business of food storage,” said former St. Pat’s Executive Director Joe Hickey in speaking of the magnitude of food that passes through the building each day.
Funds from SALSTHON 2017 will provide St. Patrick’s Center with the option of moving to a larger food distribution facility with ground floor access and a loading dock. “Funds from SALSTHON will us to expand and streamline emergency food and produce distribution,” said McDermott.
The second phase of the St. Patrick’s project will renovate the current food distribution space on the third floor into medical offices staffed by resident physicians and social workers. The hope is that by providing regular medical treatment and access to social service navigators that St. Patrick’s can assist in catching medical issues upstream and reduce preventable and costly emergency room visits.
But we can’t do this without you! Through March 18, Salesianum, Padua, and Ursuline students will be on a fundraising blitz in an effort to raise over $150,000 to put the first dollars down for St. Patrick’s Center to move its food distribution program to the new planned facility. You can assist St. Patrick's Center by making a donation to SALSTHON via our website through March 18.