“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” ― Fred Rogers
St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa County, along with our partners, has been one of the helpers during this challenging time. The coronavirus pandemic has turned the world upside down – we have had to learn entirely new ways of interacting, socializing, and surviving. Many members of our community have been laid off and have been put under financial stress that they have never experienced before.
Currently, the number one issue in the region is food insecurity, which has led to miles-long lines at food distributions both around the country and here in the Bay Area.
While St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa County (SVdP) has run 20+ food pantries for 56 years, demand is higher now than ever before. In response to the huge increase in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SVdP has partnered with other local non-profits to make sure food isn’t something struggling families have to worry about during this situation.
To address rapidly growing food and financial insecurity in the county, SVdP has partnered with Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, White Pony Express, and Catholic Charities. In addition, St. Vincent de Paul is a member of a coalition of local organizations known as Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters in Contra Costa County.
Food Insecurity: During April and May, SVdP responded to the need by contributing to the distribution of over 9,000 extra food boxes feeding over 45,000 individuals. With the help of our friends from Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano and White Pony Express, we have distributed boxes of food to our community members in Richmond, Pittsburg, Martinez, San Pablo, and Concord over the past couple of months – with more to come!
In addition to the need for food, keeping a place to shelter while we are sheltered in place is becoming a growing concern for many. In the Bay Area, we are no strangers to the housing crisis, but compounding that is now a challenging wave of unemployment – which we anticipate will worsen the housing crisis right here in our backyard of Contra Costa County.
Housing and Rental Assistance: SVdP has increased our rental assistance funding to families in need, as we endeavor to keep families housed and financially stable during and after this pandemic. Additionally, SVdP partners with Catholic Charities East Bay and other resources to find additional housing help for clients.
Foundation Funding: With extra funding specific to SVdP has been humbled by the generous giving of our individual, corporate and foundation donors, including Antioch Community Foundation, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Contra Costa County Regional Health Foundation, Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation, East Bay Community Foundation, John Muir Health, Los Medanos Community Healthcare District, Richmond Community Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, Sunlight Giving Foundation, and United Way of Bay Area. Giving is especially important right now, our local branches have lost a significant amount of their usual income due to the closure of churches and the individual donations that fund SVdP’s basic needs assistance programs at our 29 Branches.