Twenty one years ago Father Chet Carina with Tony and Georgette Ostreicher along with a group of good hearted parishioners came together to prepare and serve a meal to the Catholic Charities Ozanam Shelter guests in Edison.  On the fourth Sunday of the month they gathered at Saint Elizabeth’s cafeteria to prepare a meal and as it was cooking discuss the visit to the shelter, read scripture and pray.  When the meal was ready they packed it up and drove approximately 30 minutes to the shelter and shared the meal with the residents.

The Ozanam Family Shelter provides emergency shelter for 16 single women and 26 families.  While living in the shelter, program residents work with case managers to improve their earning capacity and obtain permanent housing.   The shelter provides homeless families and single women temporary and emergency lodging, meals, physical and mental health assessments, crisis counseling, assistance with new housing, employment and children’s educational placement, case management and referrals.

To be eligible to enter the shelter applicants must be homeless in Middlesex County, be willing to answer questions during the screening process, agree to abide by shelter rules, and may not be a threat to themselves, staff or other residents.  Former shelter residents may be denied subsequent placement if they refused to abide by shelter rules in previous stays and show no evidence of change.

Many of the same volunteers have worked tirelessly over the last 20 years to make this ministry a success.  They have repeatedly commented that they felt they received far more then they gave.  People forced into shelters feel rejected and unloved.  Having people, they do not know, take the time not only to make a meal but sit with them and share that meal makes a big impact on their outlook.  Over the years this group has had more often than not, more volunteers then they could accommodate.  Many of these volunteers have retired and moved and there is now room for those interested in joining this effort.  Individuals and families are invited to help supply items needed for the meal, prepare the meal and join us for dinner.  You may help in one part of this process or the entire event.

If you have any questions or would like to volunteer please contact Anne at Social Ministry, 908-766-0079 ext. 7 or socialministry@olphbernardsville.org or Tom at tom_stiff@hotmail.com.

Volunteers will be gathering Sunday, October 28th in the school cafeteria at 1pm to prepare his month’s meal.  More hands are needed!  Our next meal date will be Sunday, November 25th.  Please join us!