WEST | Parishes, schools and volunteers from around the Miami Archdiocese said
they couldn’t sit idly by in the wake of Hurricane Irma’s devastation to Monroe
result was a series of ad hoc collections of post-hurricane supplies and
volunteer manpower over the last few weeks which culminated in a Sept. 26
caravan of care to the Florida Keys. The effort included collections at St. Timothy, St. Kevin, St. Brendan, St. Louis and Our Lady of Lourdes parishes.
Angelina Castillo Kelley, a housing manager for a Key West Housing Authority residence for senior citizens, thanks volunteers from throughout the Archdiocese of Miami who delivered a caravan of emergency supplies Sept. 26 to locations throughout the Florida Keys as that region recovers from Hurricane Irma.
Photographer: TOM TRACY | FC
Volunteers from throughout the Archdiocese of Miami deliver a caravan of emergency supplies Sept. 26 to locations throughout the Florida Keys as that region recovers from Hurricane Irma. The donated items had been collected at a dozen Catholic schools and parishes in Miami following the storm, and were left at hard-hit sites and agencies from Key Largo to Key West.
out as a small project grew to a community-wide effort, according to Maria
Blanco, a member of St. Timothy Parish and an organizer.
“It has truly
been a collaborative effort by all and any time we run into an obstacle,
someone comes through with a donation or assistance to make this happen. We lit
a small candle, and our Church community has responded so we can light the
world down in the Keys.”
our parish was excited and our pastor and school provided us with room for
storage and put an announcement on Facebook, and that same afternoon we were
being bombarded with donations,” said Lourdes Mestre,
another member of St. Timothy who accompanied the convoy along with her husband,
know of a lot of people who were just jumping into cars and going wherever, but
we didn’t want to do that. We wanted to make sure that where our supplies were
going is where they were needed the most,” Lourdes Mestre said.
group focused on leaving donations with low-income housing facilities, foster
care programs and senior citizens.
Jeanette Nunez, a Miami Republican who chairs the House Select Committee on
Hurricane Response and Preparedness in Florida, accompanied the group and
provided a Miami Dade Fire Rescue escort from Miami to points as far as the Basilica School of St. Mary Star of the Sea in Key West. Her office also
provided contact with some of the drop-off locations.
the delegation to the Florida Keys were Richard Blanco, Annie Hernandez of Epiphany Parish in Miami, and Kathy Mesa, a member of St. John Neumann in Miami. Mesa
said she wanted to reach out to people in need after a traumatic event like a
are all called to mission, and over the years I have tried to get involved as
much as possible,” Mesa said. Her family has vacationed in the Florida Keys for
many years and wanted to help Monroe County residents.
is one thing to see the pictures but it is always different seeing it in
person. Being on the drop-off end of a collection and the distribution is very
different,” Mesa said.
at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Margie Scott, assistant principal for
student affairs, said the student body collected a truckload of items destined
for the Star of the Sea Outreach Mission and food pantry on Stock Island, which
is associated with the Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish.
were loaded onto a rental truck donated for the project by one of the school parents.
are primarily focused on cleanup efforts and I have heard from direct sources
that water and bug spray are primary needs,” Scott said, noting that there may
be longer term engagement between the school and the Florida Keys.
were beginning to think about a student workforce to go down,” she said, “but
it was suggested to wait until things are better off and the area ready to receive
Photographer: TOM TRACY | FC
Kathy Mesa, a member of St. John Neumann Parish in Miami, speaks with Father Stephen Hilley, pastor of St. Justin Martyr Parish in Key Largo, during a distribution of post-hurricane supplies. Volunteers from throughout the Archdiocese of Miami delivered a caravan of emergency supplies Sept. 26 to locations throughout the Florida Keys as that region recovers from Hurricane Irma.