Ann Drollette, a parishioner of Holy Trinity Church in Webster, remembers a time when money was tight and things were difficult.
It is the reason why she now volunteers each week for Hope Ministry, a social-justice ministry of her parish that is now supported by churches, schools, businesses and organizations from throughout Webster and Penfield.
"My daughter-in-law took me into her house," Drollette said. "I can relate to a lot of these families."
Individuals seeking help are interviewed by Drollette and other Hope Ministry volunteers who determine their needs and decide how to meet those needs.
She has been volunteering at Hope Ministry for nine years of the ministry’s 10-year existence. The organization will celebrate its 10th anniversary from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 17, at Holy Trinity Church’s Murphy Hall. The event will feature a concert by the Dady Brothers and Irish dancers from the Young School of Dance.
Raffle tickets also are being sold for a 42-inch plasma television, jewelry from Chip Arnold Jewelry and two handmade quilts. Raffle tickets are $5 or 3 for $10. Winners do not need to be present to win.
The ministry was formed in 1998 and is located in the former Sisters of St. Joseph convent near Holy Trinity Church. The ministry now has more than 70 ministers and volunteers from Webster and Penfield.
Carol Cerasoli, another Hope minister, said support of the organization has grown dramatically over the years.
"We have such terrific support that most months we are able to meet the needs of people," Cerasoli said. "It’s amazing that we just need something, and it shows up at the door the next minute."
A wide range of people seek help from Hope Ministry, Drollette and Cerasoli noted. They include people who have been laid off, those on fixed incomes, the elderly, the disabled, refugees, homeless and victims of catastrophic emergencies.
Many of those seeking help have jobs, Cerasoli observed.
"It’s just that they can’t make the ends meet on what they have," she said. "It’s not that they are not doing anything."
Volunteers give out food, clothing, household items and emergency financial assistance. The ministry even coordinates the distribution of furniture and cars, if available, Cerasoli said. Volunteers also advocate for recipients seeking social services and Social Security, or having education, legal, medical and dental issues and spiritual concerns.
"They are so appreciative of what you give them," Cerasoli said. "Even if it’s just one bag of groceries, it means the world to them, and that makes you feel good inside."
Last year, the ministry gave out 1,620 garbage bags of used clothes, and 243 families came to shop for clothes there, said Jayne Heetderks, clothing-closet coordinator.
In March alone, the ministry gave out more than 1,000 bags of food, said Linda Remis, the ministry’s codirector. Each week, the ministry helps more than 100 people.
"We try to understand, and we try to make sure that they are hooked up for the right things," Remis said.
Most recently, the ministry has seen an influx of people who are unable to make their mortgage payments each month and who are desperately trying to hang on to their homes, she said.
"People think there aren’t poor people in Webster, but there are," Remis remarked
Margery Morgan, who is codirector of the ministry with Remis, echoed that thought. She said people often are surprised to learn that poverty is happening to their friends and neighbors.
"In the suburbs, it’s hard to be poor, because there isn’t (public) transportation," Morgan said. "It can take six hours to get into the city (for one’s job). It really is an expedition."
Drollette noted that one of the most important components of the ministry’s aid is its spiritual and emotional support of those who are struggling with poverty.
"Sometimes if you just give somebody a hug, it’s like you have given them a million bucks," she said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Tickets for Hope Ministry’s May 17 celebration, which includes light refreshments, are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and children younger than 18, and free for children under 3. Tickets are available at the ministry, which is located at 1450 Ridge Road East, Webster, or by calling 585-265-6694.