Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Apr
  • 25

New soup kitchen at St. John’s to benefit from annual Walk

Posted By April 25, 2013 | 1:01 pm | Lead Story #3

By William T. Clew

The 28th annual Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance Walk for the Homeless May 19 at Elm Park will be different in three ways this year.
This year it will be called the Walk/Run for the Homeless, because a five kilometer (3.1 mile) run has been added.
A new program, the St. John’s Parish soup kitchen and food pantry called the St. Francis Xavier Center, has been added to the list of services that benefit from the funds raised by the event.
And Father John M. Madden, pastor of St. John’s Parish, joins Bernie Rotman of Rotman’s Furniture as co-chairman. Father Madden succeeds Bishop Reilly, who served as co-chairman for 13 years.
Andy Howard of CMHA said at the Walk/Run kickoff press conference Tuesday afternoon at St. John’s that the walk has, over the years, raised $1.7 million to support programs for the homeless. He said the Central Massachusetts Striders, a running club, will help enlist runners for the fundraiser. He assured those who might run that the course is flat and predicted that the weather will be perfect.
Mr. Rotman, in his 14th year as co-chairman, said he will miss Bishop Reilly but is happy Father Madden is joining the effort. Twenty years ago, he said, Rotman’s Furniture began a program of recycling furniture to needy people The furniture came from people who had bought new furniture. He has been with the Walk for the Homeless ever since.
Father Madden said people should keep in mind  people in the community who have no homes to go to. St. John’s currently runs its soup kitchen and food pantry in the basement of the church. The new St. Francis Xavier Center, which has been built on church property on Temple Street, will be dedicated in May and will open in June, he said. Father Madden also joked that he hoped that accepting the co-chairmanship doesn’t mean that he will have to run the five kilometers.
Attending the press conference was Frank Carroll,  who was chairman of the Friends of St. John’s Food for the Poor Program which raised funds to build the Xavier Center. Mr. Carroll has called the Walk for the Homeless “one of the best humanitarian programs in Worcester.”
Members of the Sharry family will take part in the walk to honor their mother, Jacqueline Sharry, who died last year. Her son Dan said his mother supported the walk and took part in it when she was 81. He said that his parents were sensitive to the needs of the homeless. He said that twice during the 1960s the Sharry family was displaced by fire and lived with relatives for a time.
A press release described her, in part, as being small in stature but being “a giant of a person, always extending a hand to those in need, always opening her door for those who might need a place to stay and always had room at the dinner table for a guest and her most popular dish, the hot dog.”
With 10 children of her own, Mrs. Sharry was willing to take in a boarder who was going to college but had no place to live, her son said. And when the children asked their mom whether friends could stay for dinner, he said, their mother replied, “sure, what’s another hot dog?”
Registration for runners May 19 will be at noon. Registration for walkers will begin at 1 p.m. The Walk/Run for the Homeless will begin at 2 p.m. The Central Mass Striders, a running club, helped plan the route and will aid with logistics.
Walkers and runners raise money by getting sponsors to support their efforts.
In addition to the St. John’s Food for the Poor program, proceeds from the Walk/Run for the Homeless also will benefit the programs of the Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance including: the Donations Clearinghouse, Homelessness Prevention Services, Hope for Housing, Youth Against Homelessness and the programs of Friendly House including the Interfaith Hospitality Network.