Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Lacombe, La joyfully hosted a “Grand Opening” celebration for its new Food for Seniors distribution site on November 24, 2020, just in time for Thanksgiving! Approximately 100 families in Lacombe currently receive monthly food supplies from Food for Seniors, and until now, Lacombe families were driving to either Mandeville or East Slidell to get their boxes. Beginning with Thanksgiving 2020, the community of Lacombe is proud to have its own new site to serve families on a local basis. The new site serves as a beautiful testament that Lacombe residents strive to support their neighbors, relatives, and friends in this close-knit community.
Deacon Steve Ferran of Sacred Heart said a special blessing to commemorate the new food distribution site and to bless the volunteers and families. Special guests for the Grand Opening included Mr. Ronnie Moore and Kevin Fitzpatrick from Catholic Charities, and Ms. Renee Davenport and Tim Robertson from Food for Seniors.
Food for Seniors is not new to Lacombe families. In fact, some of the Lacombe volunteers have been picking-up and delivering food boxes to their neighbors for more than 15 years! Two such volunteers, Ms. Gloria LeFrere and Ms. Thelma Batiste, have been helping their neighbors with pick-up and delivery for “longer than I can remember” because “we just love doing it and helping other people,” shared Ms. Gloria when reminiscing about the many years that she and her friend Ms. Thelma have been tag-teaming this labor of love in the community.
Ms. Gloria said she and Ms. Thelma started with 12 families many years ago, and as elders on their list have passed away or been able to make other arrangements for deliveries, the list they still lovingly serve is roughly a half dozen families at this point.
It should be noted that Ms. Gloria is 87 years-young and never misses a beat, and Ms. Thelma is in her 70’s, so these two remarkable ladies are still running circles around the rest of us as we try to keep their pace!
Last year, Sacred Heart started working with Food for Seniors’ management team to expand outreach to the nearly 100 families who currently participate from Lacombe. The expanded outreach is meant for the entire community, not only parishioners of Sacred Heart, and the new food distribution site serves anyone in the Food for Seniors program no matter church affiliation. The expanded outreach began with Sacred Heart’s Knights of Columbus generously volunteering to pick-up and deliver monthly food supplies to approximately 20 families in Lacombe who either lacked transportation or who were physically unable to handle the 40-pound boxes. As the Knights of Columbus continued their delivery service for several months this year, Sacred Heart continued working in parallel with Food for Seniors’ management team to get Lacombe’s own distribution site up-and-running to serve families on a local basis as we head into the holiday season and the new year.
Ms. Gloria shared her enthusiasm about the evolution of the program and her clear joy in being part of this wonderful service to the community for so many years. She said she remembers certain times when people were flooded-in because of hard rains or hurricanes over the years since parts of Lacombe are prone to flooding with a heavy storm, and she and Ms. Thelma would pick-up boxes for flooded families who were unable to get to the designated site in Mandeville or Slidell. She and Ms. Thelma have similarly served older people who were home from the hospital still recovering, and widows and widowers over the years, and just about every imaginable hardship that volunteers see in a small community where everyone takes care of each other.
Except now Lacombe residents have the convenience and the sense of dignity of going “around the corner” to see familiar friendly faces to pick-up their monthly Food For Seniors box, and Sacred Heart is humbled and grateful to bring this new resource to the entire local community of Lacombe!