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​Catholic Charities reflects on one-year anniversary of St. Stephen’s CARE Center

September 10, 2020 | posted by Today's Catholic newspaper

Topics: Catholic Charities, In the Press, Breaking News

Catholic Charities reflects on one-year anniversary of St. Stephen’s CARE Center

Catholic Charities opened the St. Stephen’s CARE Center on Sept. 9, 2019 with the intent of providing a client-choice Food Pantry, Clothes Closet, and Diaper Bank for the San Antonio community. At its inception, the site was designed to provide additional capacity for food distribution and serve as a hub for disaster relief. Then the pandemic hit.

One year ago, St. Stephen’s CARE Center was launched to expand capacity of the Food Pantry and Clothes Closet as need grew in the community. The 6,486 square foot facility offered a different kind of food pantry where clients could seek help with dignity by choosing their own food much like a grocery store, but without paying for their groceries. St. Stephen’s CARE Center, representing Compassion, Aid, Respect, and Empowerment, began to live up to its name before reaching the one-year anniversary.

Once the pandemic affected San Antonio with job loss, income loss, and other challenges, St. Stephen’s CARE Center immediately moved the Food Pantry and Clothes Closet to a drive thru and curbside distribution model. Since March, St. Stephen’s grew from serving about 90 families per week to over 1,000 families per week, distributing about 55,000 pounds of food. Three mass distribution events of food, diapers, and masks were held in the following months serving 3,000 to 5,000 people in just a matter of hours.

Catholic Charities’ President/CEO, J. Antonio Fernandez, says, “We knew that St. Stephen’s CARE Center was needed in our community, but the pandemic changed everything. We have adapted many of our programs to deliver our services safely. We have seen the need grow significantly and we are working hard to be the compassionate resource for our community. We are so very thankful to generous San Antonians and partners who have answered the call to serve with us during this uncertain time.”

As the pandemic continues, Catholic Charities remains committed to living our mission and providing basic needs through drive-thru or curbside distribution. Catholic Charities and Father Praveen Lakkisetti from Our Lady of Grace Church and St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles Parish gave thanks to the community via a prayer service at St. Stephen’s CARE Center September 9.