In March, coronavirus shut all our front doors. Along with it, SVP’s centre in Newry, County Down had to close its doors for the first time in a decade. But Mario, for whom the centre is a labour of love, wasn’t about to let the virus stop your generosity from reaching the most vulnerable in the community…
You might have seen the little ‘Vincent’s’ shop front in Mill Street. It’s a beautiful forest green façade with bevelled gold lettering and speaks of SVP’s long history of hope in the small community here.
But what you may not know is that above the shop sits another very special place...
A place which has been bringing great comfort and relief to the weary for more than a decade. And at a time when the North is experiencing record-numbers of homelessness, the centre acts as a beacon of light for Newry’s lost and lonely souls.
When Mario speaks about the drop-in centre, his eyes light up like a boy on Christmas morning. And even though its doors have been forced closed by coronavirus, Mario is working away behind locked doors even today – determined that the generosity you’ve shown in these dark and difficult days will not go to waste.
Little Parcels of Hope
With swift help like yours and generous donations from local businesses, Mario and his team of volunteers have been quick to adapt the drop-in centre’s services to meet the new ‘normal’ stretching out ahead.
In the first two weeks of lockdown, your kind gifts helped send over 100 food and care packages to the most vulnerable homeless people in Newry, stuck in temporary homes.
Since then, many hundreds more have been lovingly packed up and collected.
As well as essential supplies, a little of the light your generous heart has shown since this crisis began is enclosed with every parcel.
Thanks to you, Mario keeps a close watch over the most fragile people in Newry. He’s worried about the people he’s come to know through the centre. That’s why he’s grateful for you….
Your generosity tells homeless friends that while they may be out of sight right now…they are not forgotten.
A Labour of Love
“I have a picture of Saint Vincent de Paul and it says, “Doing charity is not a difficult task”. “I take this to heart”, says Mario. “I am proud to carry the breadbasket and the soup kettle with a smile, just as St Vincent de Paul did on the streets of Paris 400 years ago. That simple but fundamental message will always be engraved in my heart.”
As always, the crisis and its long-term impacts are likely to hit the very poorest the hardest. “I really hope that we’re going to be okay”, says Mario, who is expecting the drop-in centre will see many new faces in the aftermath of coronavirus.
Whatever the future holds, with the warmth of Mario’s welcome, and your generous heart, SVP will be here to meet it when it comes.
As more people turn to SVP in these times of trouble, we are more grateful than ever for your generous heart.