Over 20 years ago, the Outreach Ministry was established at Corpus Christi Church. Over its life there, it had grown into a successful food pantry, thrift store, and financial assistance center, all while being housed in a church facility. In 1997, the four churches in the Newport area merged to become the Holy Spirit Parish at St. Stephen Church. The Outreach Ministry was fortunate to be able to stay in the facility that had housed it rent-free, until the facility was to be demolished by the Housing Authority of Newport. The Outreach sought a new facility, and found one at the First Baptist Church of Newport in one of their buildings. So, in April, 2006, the new food pantry opened in its present location.
In September, 2008, the First Baptist Church provided additional space in their facility to the Outreach to once again open the Thrift Store. This store’s purpose is to make available clean and usable clothing and household items at very reasonable prices to the poor of the community. The money raised from the Thrift Store sales goes entirely and directly toward the purchase of additional food for the food pantry and to also assist with rent and utility bills. In 2013 and 2014 and so far in 2015, the Thrift Store has become extremely successful in that the money earned through sales completely funds the additional food purchases needed over and above the government-supplied food and has also allowed us to offer even more financial assistance.
This also has allowed the subsidy amounts to increase to a level that will help a little more with the amount of significant debt that the poor are bringing into the Outreach when requesting assistance. Rather than a flat fee, the assistance structure has changed to work off a percentage of debt with a floor/cap range. The new structure has allowed the ministry to provide some much needed assistance that will make a better impact on the lives of the poor being served. At the start of 2015, we were able to raise the floor/cap range by 28%, so to have a greater impact on the increasing number of unpaid or delinquent bills that clients bring in which have now begun to reach the $1,000 mark. These large bills for the clients are definitely increasing in frequency.
In 2010 the Outreach Ministry began more efforts to increase awareness of the ministry in order to increase donations for the ministry’s work. These efforts have continued strongly into 2015 and have been very successful as the need continues to reach record levels for this ministry. Some of this awareness has attracted attention throughout the Diocese of Covington, resulting in much-needed physical help in updating the facility, The volunteers have worked in conjunction with the First Baptist Church and with various volunteer groups from other organizations (i.e. students from Thomas More College and Newport Central Catholic) to reorganize the Outreach facility. The environment has become more welcoming and client-friendly. During 2014, donations were secured to purchase new technology for the food pantry (i.e. printer/copier and new laptops). With the new technology, the Outreach Ministry is able to use the government’s online sites to distribute food more efficiently. With the ability to dedicate the monetary donations toward subsidies due to the increasing success of the Thrift Store, the Outreach has been able to help more families and to help those families at an increased level of monetary support. The Ministry has found that more of the families are deeper in debt than in years past. And the need, unfortunately, keeps growing.
Most recently, in May 2015, the Outreach Ministry has also partnered with the St. Vincent De Paul Society (SVDP). Through this new partnership with SVDP, the Outreach Ministry is now accepting the Newport clients of SVDP and assisting with food, clothing, and personal care items. The need continues to grow in our community and with partnerships with the First Baptist Church of Newport and the St. Vincent De Paul Society, Holy Spirit Outreach Ministry is meeting that need!
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