Family Promise is fortunate to have known strong and consistent support from the faith community in Bergen County for over three decades. One standout, however, is St. Catharine Church in Glen Rock. As a participant and friend to all of our programs, St. Catharine’s has gone above and beyond in its support of those experiencing homelessness, particularly working families. We take this opportunity to highlight and pay tribute to St. Catharine and its many dedicated volunteers, as well as Father Tom Wisniewski, who is stepping down this month after his many years of service to his church and the community at large.
When the rotating shelter of churches and synagogues opened in early 2011, St. Catharine was one of the first to host the families. Pam Biggs has coordinated the effort, securing donations and talented volunteers to ensure a safe, caring, and wonderful experience for the families in the program. For close to ten years, until COVID forced the closing of the network program, parents and their children (from infants to teens) were guaranteed nutritious and abundant meals and nightly activities from games to crafts to reading to basketball. And don’t forget those extra-special bubble baths before bed!
For the last several years, St. Catharine was hosting families four weeks each year, the only congregation to do so, enabling us to provide safe shelter for 52 weeks a year. The strong leadership team also included co-coordinators Ann Marie McCann and Fran Robertson, volunteers who continue to work with Family Promise, offering their own unique and invaluable contributions to the organization and the families.
For years, St. Catharine was a top seller of the annual Family Promise 50-50 raffle and Pam graciously and effectively spoke to the congregation on numerous occasions, sharing family stories and encouraging the sales.
In addition to the sheltering network and the raffle, St. Catharine has participated in Family Promise’s Walk-in Dinner Program for many years and was able to pivot during COVID by catering delicious meals on their scheduled dates.
Camp Lots-of-Fun, our two-week summer camp for the children in our sheltering programs, has been held at St. Catharine for the last three years, thanks in large part to Father Tom’s blessing of our use of the facility. There is a large air-conditioned indoor space with kitchen and bathrooms, plus a beautiful outdoor space for sports and activities and a private playground for the younger children.
Father Tom has supported the many outreach efforts of the church and its dedicated volunteers. A true friend to Family Promise, and always a welcome guest at our annual Gala, we are saddened to learn of his departure from the parish and wish him the very best in his retirement.
We extend a heartfelt and most sincere thank you to Father Tom and to our friends at St. Catharine Church for being an integral part of the Family Promise family.