By Jessica Easthope
Free food, free clothing, and a space free of judgment. At the Shalom Catholic Community’s friendsgiving, everyone is poor in their own way.
“We are all existentially poor; we are all in need of each other, so today we want to share everything we have and everything we are, enrich one another with our gifts,” said Father Cristiano Pinheiro, pastor of San Damiano Mission and coordinator of the Shalom Catholic Community.
Father Pinheiro says as the ongoing migrant crisis changes the face of the neighborhood, the reach of the Church needs to get wider.
“We want to be a Church that builds bridges and reaches those that are suffering with loneliness, suffering with immigration. Want to be a family for them,” he said.
The event, which was held on the streets of Greenpoint, drew in people from all walks of life, people like Vietnam veteran Rita Das.
“I live day-to-day, nobody ever gave me a penny,” Das said. “I feel very, very happy that people could do something like this for other people.”
For some who have been trying to get back on their feet since the COVID-19 pandemic, Shalom has been a safe haven.
“There’s nowhere to find a meal from, no job, no money, not everybody’s got it to give so I’m thankful,” said Leonard Jonas who’s living in a YMCA shelter in Greenpoint.
“Since COVID, the isolation, Shalom has been very helpful and understanding and it’s giving faith back to humanity,” said Jesse Harrison who comes to Shalom often for food and assistance.