The Marian Outreach Center at St. Lucy’s Catholic Church is in West Long Beach. I arrive 20 minutes early and decide to visit the church while I wait; they are celebrating Mass with the students of St. Lucy’s School and the pews are filled with children. As it turns out, I end up sitting right in front of Sr. Francis who is the Director of Marian Outreach. After the service, I meet up with Sr. Francis and other members of the Marian Outreach staff in their office that once served as the parish rectory. It is a warm, cozy place that is getting progressively busier with volunteers organizing bags of food for their pantry distribution. Marian Outreach serves 100 families once a week; about 300-400 people weekly. The food is portioned-out so that people with 7+ in a household are given more that those with only 1-2 people in a household. The bags on this particular Friday were filled with rice, beans, canned vegetables, fresh bread from a Downey bakery and pint-sized milk cartons.
I am moved by the respectful way in which the people in line are given their bag of food. A volunteer opens the door and welcomes the next person to enter a small office and take a seat at the desk. The client then presents their Marian Outreach laminated ID card and signs-in, chatting briefly with the office staff before being handed their food. Marian Outreach offers aid to those living in the local neighborhoods, but they do not turn away anyone and will provide food and referrals to people coming to them from other areas.
The Marian Outreach Center has been helping their community for 18 years and generations of families have been involved in their success. A huge part of that success has clearly been the dedication of the St Lucy Parish and School and the love of Sr. Francis who tells me that she’s in the business of helping people for its “psyche income”. That makes total sense to me.
On to the next agency…