SEATTLE – Volunteers at Our Lady of Fatima Parish are helping residents of the St. Martin de Porres Shelter in downtown Seattle stay safe from COVID-19.
The parishioners have assembled 600 “hand hygiene” kits containing soap, alcohol wipes and lotion. The most recent kits they assembled also include a disposable face mask.
Sue Patneaude, a member of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Seattle, sorts supplies that parishioners are assembling into hand hygiene kits for men staying at the St. Martin de Porres Shelter in downtown Seattle. Photo: Courtesy Sue Patneaude
“We have a tremendous amount of volunteer energy here at Fatima,” said parishioner Sue Patneaude. “It’s a way we can support their most basic needs.”
Patneaude coordinates the parish’s winter overnight shelter, which houses 10 men when there’s no more room at St. Martin de Porres, operated by Catholic Community Services of Western Washington. After the pandemic arrived, parishioners asked the shelter staff what they could do to help, and learned hygiene kits were needed, she explained.
Volunteers assembling the kits maintained social distancing guidelines as they passed them along to the next person to add the next item. “It worked very well,” Patneaude said. “All you need is 6 feet, masks and, of course, gloves.”
“I’m just really proud of how they stepped up to this new challenge,” said Father Philip Raether, Our Lady of Fatima’s pastor.
The parish has been involved with St. Martin de Porres Shelter for 15 years. On two nights a week from October through March, Our Lady of Fatima hosts the overflow shelter in the basement of the parish office building, relying on some 80 families to provide food and supervision for the men.
Our Lady of Fatima is one of seven Catholic parishes that usually provide overflow shelter space; because of COVID-19, however, the overflow shelters won’t be happening this winter, said Jeff Cathey, program manager at St. Martin de Porres. Patneaude said a program is being developed so the parishes can still help out, by providing evening meals for men staying at the shelter.
“They have always been there for us if we have special needs,” Cathey said. “They can be great advocates and emissaries of the stories of the homeless.”