Catholic Charities New York Shares The Joy Of The Season With Westchester Community
Families everywhere are making hard choices this holiday season. The pandemic and all the changes it brought are changing how families celebrate the holidays, including a tradition most of us take for granted – gathering around the table for Christmas dinner.
But thanks to a good Samaritan who partnered with Catholic Charities Community Services of Westchester and Putnam, 100 families in Westchester are receiving a full Christmas dinner this year. Gregory Lizotte is the owner of Northern Westchester Collision, and he decided to make a difference and give back to his community.
“We take things like holiday dinners for granted,” said Gregory, “and really everyone doesn’t have the luxury of buying a turkey dinner for Christmas. It’s a small thing that I can do to help another person. I was thinking of those that are not working throughout this pandemic and all of those businesses that have shut down and let people go. Northern Westchester Collision has been blessed with a dedicated staff and a loyal clientele.”
When Gregory wanted to implement act of charity, he knew he needed a partner. The natural fit was Catholic Charities. Gregory said, “I’ve seen the good things that Catholic Charities has done in the community. There was no question that I needed to partner with Monsignor Sullivan and his staff.”
Catholic Charities has been more active than ever this year, trying to meet the new challenges COVID-19 has presented. They have reinvented how they distribute food to the hungry after social-distancing restrictions made the old model unsafe. Through the Feeding Our Neighbor’s Program, over 1 million emergency meals were provided to hungry New Yorkers in pop-up food pantries within six months, and they have been able to provide warm winter clothing for 1,540 families. So, when Gregory reached out to Catholic Charities, a plan and put it into action.
Operating out of a garage at Gregory’s business in Peekskill, Gregory and Catholic Charity workers packaged the 100 turkeys with all the fixings for full holiday meals. Lending a hand on site was Catholic Charities Executive Director Monsignor Kevin Sullivan and Frank Kortright, Catholic Charities’ Regional Director of Putnam & Northern Westchester, along with several of the families from the community. The parcels were packed up and taken to Church of the Assumption for full distribution to all 100 families.
The pastor at the Church of the Assumption is Father Esteban Sanchez, who serves his diverse community not only in spirit but in deeds. The church’s mission to feed the hungry grew significantly when the Coronavirus lockdowns began. “We started talking with groups in our community,” he explained while literally in the midst of handing out the turkey dinners, “and asked for donations to help feed the hungry. We began cooking, and were feeding up to 500 families every week.”
When church and community come together to carry out a mission, anything is possible. Catholic Charities has been there for over a hundred years to support charitable efforts in communities across the Archdiocese. During this particularly difficult year, Gregory Lizotte is a great example of just how much impact a cooperative act of charity can have right in your own community.