On the Record

Helping hand

On the Record with Donna Brown

Donna Brown (left) and Kathy Dixit, volunteers with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul St. Mary / Christ the Teacher Conference, organize boxes of nonperishable food that were distributed March 17.
Donna Brown (left) and Kathy Dixit, volunteers with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul St. Mary / Christ the Teacher Conference, organize boxes of nonperishable food that were distributed March 17.

DeKALB – During the threat of the coronavirus, Donna Brown of DeKalb has been volunteering and helping people in need in the community.

Brown is the president of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul St. Mary / Christ the Teacher Conference.

The society’s food pantry, which is usually open Tuesdays from 3 to 6 p.m. at the corner of Fourth Street and Fisk Avenue in DeKalb, is closed until April 7.

People in need of food can visit www.mypantryexpress.org, a service implemented by the Northern Illinois Food Bank last summer.

Through the program, people can select which items they need and the time, day and location of a pickup.

Pickups can be scheduled at the Walmart parking lot from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursdays, the Northern Illinois University School of Nursing parking lot from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Fridays and the Resource Room inside Goodwill from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul also offers limited financial assistance for people who may be facing a temporary life crisis, such as eviction or utility shut-off.

For assistance, those in need can call the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s emergency phone number, 815-200-4730, and leave a message.

Brown met with MidWeek reporter Katrina Milton to talk more about the Society of St. Vincent de Paul St. Mary / Christ the Teacher Conference.

Milton: How has the threat of the coronavirus affected the local Society of St. Vincent de Paul Conference?

Brown: We have been forced to close our pantry until April 7 and are asking our neighbors in need to utilize the mypantryexpress.org, as well as the Salvation Army pantry, until we are up and running again. Messages for emergency food assistance requests can be left on our general phone line, 815-200-4730. Those wishing to help us provide rental and utility assistance to those facing layoff, etc. can make donations through our website, www.svdpdekalb.org.

Milton: How has the coronavirus affected the society’s home visit program?

Brown: We usually visit three families a week in their homes. We’ve now had to have teleconference and make phone calls. It’s been a challenge because we visit people at home, where they’re most comfortable. We’re always in need of volunteers, even those that can make phone calls.

Milton: How would you describe the society’s volunteers?

Brown: We want to be the hands and feet of Christ in our community. We want to show the love of Christ, listen and be providers of information and resources. We just want to do the best we can, do everything we can, to help our neighbors.

Milton: How does the society help in other ways?

Brown: One of the most important things we can offer is faith and hope. It’s important for people to know that we are praying for them and offering what we can to help them through this. It’s times like this that humans realize how vulnerable we are and that God is there to help. It’s a good reminder we should share and care for one another.

Milton: Why is it important to volunteer and donate?

Brown: It’s important to help others. Nobody will be abandoned in this situation. DeKalb County is a community of good people who care. We’ll all get through this together. There’s always people in need in the community, not only during this crisis.

Milton: What is the importance of helping each other?

Brown: We need to help each other as a community. We can all get through this together. This is a wonderful community to be in. All we need is a deep breath and some prayer and we can get through this. If you need help in any way, reach out to us. We want to help. The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul is always around to help people in need in the community, not only during this crisis.

For information about the Society of St. Vincent de Paul St. Mary / Christ the Teacher Conference, visit www.svdpdekalb.org. Donations also can be made online.

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