By Kim Turner, Communications Director
St. Patrick’s Center in downtown Wilmington has been meeting the most basic needs of our community since 1971. Under the leadership of Executive Director, Joe Hickey, the center provides emergency food, transportation, homeless respite services, recreational activities, a clothing bank and much more to some of Wilmington’s most-vulnerable populations.
Whether one is in need of a hot breakfast, warm shower, blanket or emergency food box, St. Patrick’s is a judgement-free center. All are welcomed regardless of their position in life.
Seniors and adults with disabilities depend on the Center for transportation to medical appointments.
Families are the largest population served at St. Patrick’s, says Hickey. “If a hungry family needs food or warmth, we bring them in and take care of them.”
St. Patrick’s has experienced a significant increase in demand for services over the past year. On average, the center services approximately 1,200 households each month through its emergency food pantry. In October 2012, 908 households were serviced, however, in October 2013, 1,562 households were serviced – an all-time high for the agency.
Hickey says St. Patrick’s is having a difficult time keeping up with the demand.
Every day the organization’s truck is out on the road picking up donations from local retailers. And meat is the center’s most popular item, says a committed volunteer named Forrest.
Retired, Forrest volunteers five hours of his time each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He says the best part is “putting a smile one someone’s face.” He works alongside Danny, an employee of St. Patrick’s, and the two are just amazed by the numbers served.
“When I started [seven years ago] we didn’t get this many people,” says Danny.
With increased demands for services, St. Patrick’s now utilizes a part-time social worker who connects visitors with other community services, such as healthcare, nutrition, job training and housing assistance.
Hickey says he’s thankful for the partnership with the Food Bank of Delaware.
To help stock pantries like St. Patrick’s, please consider hosting a Share a Second Helping food drive this winter! Our goal is 100,000 pounds by February 28. To learn more, please click here.