With a formal ribbon cutting ceremony on June 23 followed by a blessing from Bishop John Noonan, Catholic Charities of Central Florida (CCCF) and Blessed Sacrament Parish in Cocoa celebrated a new partnership that will provide additional social services to northern Brevard County.
Beginning July 1, the Catholic Charities outreach office that now shares building space with the Blessed Sacrament Thrift Shop will provide vital social services such as emergency financial assistance, a food pantry, counseling, crisis pregnancy services, adoption and foster family services.
In praying the blessing before a crowd of about three dozen employees and volunteers from Catholic Charities and Blessed Trinity, Bishop Noonan said, “God is love. In the desire to make us share in His love, he sent His Son into the world to come to our aid and in gentle kindness to help those who are weak, sick or unfortunate. In His great love for all of us, Christ said that whatever we do for the least among us we do for him.”
Bishop Noonan also described the community in northern Brevard County, which is facing the end of the space shuttle program, as “resilient” in the face of an economic downturn. “Resilient is what this community is, and after what it has undergone over the last 30 years, it seems to always come back, and this is why we’re here to bring new life and hope and faith for the future for everybody.” Bishop Noonan said.
“This is our newest partnership and this is a real opportunity for us to reach more people,” said Arne Nelson, President and CEO of Catholic Charities of Central Florida. “The parish is full of loving people with big hearts who understand our whole mission in helping people in need. I have programs and ministries with a few people working in them but if I can partner with a parish I can tap into more volunteers that I ever would have realized.”
Nelson noted that the Blessed Sacrament is one of a growing number of parishes in the diocese that is partnering with Catholic Charities to provide food, counseling, emergency financial assistance, and other social services to those who need them most. He cited St. Paul Parish in Leesburg and St. Clare in Deltona as two other examples of parish partnership programs in other parts of the diocese.
Beverly Lampley, Southern Regional Director of CCCF (Brevard County) had the honor of cutting the ribbon to symbolize the upcoming opening of the facility. “This has been an exciting experience because we’ve been trying to get the parishes to partner with us for 10 years,” said Lampley. “We need volunteers to assist us and the professionals have the experience with case management.”
Lampley worked closely with Blessed Sacrament pastor Father Anthony Quinlivan, who cleared out storage space in the parish’s thrift shop to accommodate the Catholic Charities offices. In less than two months time, volunteers created additional office space, installed new lights, installed an Internet connection, painted the walls and began the process of stocking the shelves of the food pantry.
During the ribbon cutting ceremony, Father Quinlivan announced, “This is a wonderful opportunity for Blessed Sacrament. Catholic Charities brings something we could never ever provide for our poor. Thanks to the trust Catholic Charities seems to have in us, I believe this partnership will be a wonderful asset, not only to Port St. John and the locality, but to the diocese.”
Those who wish to schedule an appointment for services at the Catholic Charities outreach office at Blessed Sacrament can call 321-636-6144. To learn more about Catholic Charities of Central Florida, visit their website at: http://www.cflcc.org/.