This summer, what will you do with the time that has been given to you?

By David Cooley.

No one could have guessed at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year how things would end abruptly before the month of April. It is fair to say that many people are grieving in some way, and rightly so. Instead of the usual end-of-the-year excitement and celebrations, there has been isolation and distance among friends. For us Catholics, the most difficult thing has been being away from our Lord in the sacraments and being away from our parish communities. For many youth who were enjoying a significant year in school, things came to a rather anti-climactic end. Of course, none of this is to even mention those that have suffered through illness or have lost loved ones who were very dear to them. Yet on the other hand, I think it is also fair to say that 2020 will not fade away from our memories anytime soon. At the very least it has been unique, caused us to pause, and perhaps forced us to look at things in a different way.

But now summer has crept in, virtually unnoticed, and we are faced with a new set of dilemmas. For the most part public Masses have opened up again — a true blessing — but “to go, or not to go; that is the question.” There is, after all, still a dispensation in place from our bishop through the end of the season. “But, Lord, how can we stay away from you, and where should we go?” And, for the most part, everything else that involves large gatherings but deemed “unnecessary” has been canceled altogether. In other words, this means that, for those with children of any age in the house, there are no summer camps, and, more importantly, no Vacation/Vocation Bible School! Summer cannot be a time for youth to take a vacation from their Catholic faith. In this day and age the stakes are just too high. There are too many entities out there, mostly dark, battling for their hearts and attention.

Again, this is an opportunity for us to pause, and truly reflect on the important truth that our homes are meant to be a domestic church. No matter what is going on outside our doors, we are an Easter people and our time on this earth should be filled with joy because we know the good news of Jesus Christ. We know that everything is in God’s hands. As Catholics, we are called to be a light in the darkness, a sign of God’s love for all people. It all starts in the home and, if we happen to be parents, we must set an example for our children.
So what are some concrete things families can do?

First, find ways to stay connected to the Church. Make sure your family experiences the Mass at least once each week, even if you decide to live stream it or watch a recording. Additionally, try to organize parish activities that utilize safe distance procedures; for example, a Monday night rosary group that prays together via video conferencing. At the very least families should pray together daily, take turns writing prayers or leading reflections on the mysteries of the rosary. Make sure your child has an age-appropriate style Bible. That is so crucial, and these days there is virtually a limitless selection.

Pay close attention to feast days, learn about the saints together — celebrate St. Thomas More with a virtual tour of the Tower of London. There are many ways to make history come alive. Read daily devotionals together. Make chalk drawings of your favorite Bible stories or stained-glass windows. When July rolls around, sew a “God Bless America” quilt or table runner. Bake home-made “Eucharist” (flat) bread and talk about the Passover in Exodus, the Last Supper and the Blessed Sacrament. Find other meals, foods and drinks to try from biblical times. Discover new Catholic arts and craft ideas via the internet.

It is necessary to be creative and keep young people engaged the best we can during these challenging times. Never miss an opportunity to address important issues and demonstrate how God is at work in the world today. Read a small section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church every day and discuss it as a family. All these thoughts just scratch the surface of the possibilities.

One final idea, and I wish I could tell you that I came up with this because I love it so much. There are websites, such as animoto.com and freemake.com (and I’m sure there are others), where users can import animation, photos, movie clips and audio files to create videos/slideshows, etc. Early in the week, look at the Scripture readings for the following Sunday, then, as a family, make a video that tells the entire Gospel story. The great thing about this project is that you can then share the video your family makes each week on social media and evangelize to others without leaving your house. And, of course, you are well prepared for Sunday’s Mass.

In preparing to write this article one of my favorite passages from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” kept popping into my head. In dealing with challenging times and a cross to bear, Frodo the Hobbit says to Gandalf the Wizard: “I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.” To which Gandalf replies: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

How true! Seasons come and go. Typically in the summer we have a little bit more time on our hands; that might be particularly true this year. So what will you decide to do with the time that is given to you?

David Cooley is co-director and office manager of the Office of Catechesis and Evangelization in the Diocese of Covington.

Business Manager – St. Catherine of Siena

St. Catherine of Siena Parish, located in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, is seeking a part-time business manager.  Primary duties: Assist the pastor in the financial and physical operation of the parish by overseeing and coordinating all business-related activities in the parish.  The Business Manager also functions as parish accountant.  Accounting experience and Quickbooks knowledge required.  20-25 hours per week. Need not be Catholic, but must be supportive of the Catholic mission and be living a life consistent with Catholic teaching. Please send all resumes with salary requirements by email to [email protected], or by mail to Rev. Stef Bankemper, 1803 N. Fort Thomas Avenue, Fort Thomas, KY  41075.

Music Director – St. Therese

St. Therese Parish, Southgate, KY (www.sainttherese.ws) seeks a part-time musician to provide music for weekend Masses and Holy Days of Obligation.  Preferred candidate would:  possess organ & improvisation skills;  have vocal experience, including ability to sing with accurate pitch and rhythm;  have ability to direct both adult and children;  be available for funerals and weddings;  and be knowledgeable about the Catholic liturgy (or willing to be educated).  Virtus training is required.

Qualified candidates should send a letter of interest, simple resume including references and compensation history to [email protected] or fax to 859.441.2395.

School Cafeteria Staff

Several School Cafeterias in the Diocesan school system are looking for workers for the 2020-21 school year:
·         Holy Cross Elementary School in Latonia
·         St. Agnes Elementary School in Ft. Wright
·         St. Henry Elementary School in Erlanger
·         St. Joseph Elementary School in Crescent Springs
·         St. Pius X Elementary School in Edgewood
·         St. Timothy Elementary School in Union
Duties may include food preparation, serving line, cashier, cleanup, etc. The positions will begin in early August, and will generally follow the school calendar. If you might be interested in any of these openings contact Jackie Kaiser at [email protected], or call her at 859/392-1536.

Diocesan schools look forward to welcoming students back to campus in August

Laura Keener, Editor.

The news teachers, parents and students have been waiting for has been announced. The second week of August is the week when Catholic schools in the Diocese of Covington will begin in-person instruction for the 2020–2021 school year.

Since mid-May, Michael Clines, superintendent of Schools, and Kendra McGuire, associate superintendent, have been meeting weekly with elementary and high school principals to discuss the opening of the school year and the return to in-classroom instruction.

“It has been clear from our discussions that what we all want — teachers, parents and administrators — is to have in-person instruction,” Mr. Clines said. “Our Catholic school community has been working together to find a safe way to bring our students back into the classrooms, and we are excited about getting them back on our campuses.”

Due to construction, two schools — St. Thomas School, Ft. Thomas and St. Joseph Academy, Walton — will delay the start of the school year until the end of August. All the other 26 elementary and nine high schools will begin August 10–14.

“We are looking into how things may be scheduled, but our students will be back in school,” said Mrs. McGuire.

Principals from all of the schools together with Mr. Clines and Mrs. McGuire make up the diocesan schools task force. They meet weekly to discuss the Northern Kentucky Health Department and CDC guidelines on remaining Healthy at School during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We started with two questions. Can you logistically have in-person instruction while meeting health department guidelines? And if there are interruptions with busing, will parents be able to provide private transportation,” said Mr. Clines. “Having answered those questions, we are now ready to move on to alternate learning design strategies and other topics. That’s where we are now.”

Since each school has similar but unique needs and resources, each school has its own task force that is working on how best to implement the guidelines — social distancing, scheduling, lunches, and the myriad of other details that will need to be managed.

“Our schools and their task force are working on measuring rooms and looking at how to fit students in and various schedules. Once they’ve collected all the information, they’ll begin with problem solving and decision making. Many are in the very early stages, just meeting for the first time last week,” said Mrs. McGuire.
Schools are also working on ways to provide synchronous alternative instruction for parents who feel their child should remain Healthy at Home.

“We are working to make that a possibility for them,” said Mrs. McGuire. “There will probably be some parents who might need that option.”

Parents will begin to receive information from their school about the 2020–2021 school year and are encouraged to register early as accommodations are being developed.

Long-time principal of St. Henry District High School retires

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

Thirty years and many stories later, Dave Otte is ready to bow out gracefully from his leadership at St. Henry District High School, Erlanger.

His long tenure started with a phone call, one Mr. Otte credits as the work of divine providence.

After teaching for 14 years in Erlanger, he worked for a textbook publishing company for two years as a developmental editor of math textbooks. In the summer of 1990 he received a phone call from Father Gene Wolfzorn, who was on the board at the time, and asked if he would be interested in the job as principal at St. Henry. Mr. Otte didn’t know then it would be his last job interview.

Over the last 30 years, the school has undergone many changes with Mr. Otte at the head. About eight years in, the high school outgrew its location beside St. Henry grade school in Elsmere, and the diocese found a new property on which to expand.

“When I started, it was more of a parish high school,” said Mr. Otte. “Now we draw from all over Northern Kentucky and even Indiana. It’s grown to the point where it’s not just that little school up in Elsmere. It’s a district high school … we draw from a very wide range of areas.”

Mr. Otte has also led the school in opening up its sports complex and its 2019 fine arts addition, complete with the largest auditorium in Northern Kentucky.

His biggest success as a principal, however, isn’t any physical project. It’s his faculty. “I always say the faculty and staff here are absolutely wonderful and I hope everybody understands how good they really are — I think that’s where it has to start,” he said.

Creating an atmosphere where students can learn isn’t always easy, but Mr. Otte has consistently achieved it with the staffs he has hired during his time at SHDHS. Teachers want to be on his staff because they know they can come and be treated professionally, running their classrooms with few outside issues to interrupt learning.
“We’ve been very fortunate, we have very few issues during the school day with the kids,” he said. “It makes it a great atmosphere, a great place to teach and to learn.”

He also enjoys seeing the students grow. “To see a student come in as a freshman and then when they graduate, it’s such a defining moment to see them and know that we prepared them for what’s next,” he said. “The faith environment helps. I think the students are very comfortable here, and all of that rolls into the success of the students. They’re teenagers, but they enjoy being here. It’s a safe place where they see their friends, where they have adults they can go to and they are aware of that.”

Mr. Otte is continually grateful for the amount of support he’s had for every project and undertaking. If he’s learned one thing during his time as principal, it’s that “there’s a lot of great kids and people.”

“The support I’ve gotten from the diocese, especially Bishop (Roger) Foys, has just been unbelievable. He’s been very instrumental in what I’ve done during his 18 years. He’s been a tremendous inspiration to me.”

Mr. Otte has known it’s time to move on for a few years now, and waited until after the completion of the fine arts project during the 2019-2020 school year. He decided after the coronavirus COVID-19 shutdown that he wanted more time at home with family.

“After Bishop Foys gave us the go ahead on the fine arts project, I told him I would stay through that project,” he said. “The business of staying home for two months told me that’s probably where I needed to be.” The Ottes will have their eighth grandchild in September, and he wants to be able to spend time with them.

“Being available to them right now has become more of a priority to me. Staying home convinced me that it was time for a change. In my mind, this was the perfect scenario to ease out and be healthy at home,” he said.

Bishop Foys said, “Mr. Otte has given his life to Catholic education. His three decades at St. Henry District High School provide us with proof of that. He has been committed to the Catholic identity of our schools as well as to providing each student with an excellent overall education. From the move from the old St. Henry High School site and the building of a new St. Henry District High School to the very recent addition to SHDHS he has been on the front lines. His guidance, his wisdom, his knowledge and especially his faith have served not only him well but also every student who walked through the doors of SHDHS.”

Father Gregory Bach, pastoral administrator at SHDHS, said: “Dave Otte has been very dedicated to St. Henry (District) High School in the 30 plus years he has served there. He’s a very faith-filled man. His legacy will live on in the school he has built.”

“I am grateful beyond words for all he has done for Catholic education in our diocese,” said Bishop Foys. “I pray that he will enjoy his retirement and look forward to seeing and working with him at his parish — our Cathedral Basilica in Covington. God bless Mr. Dave Otte!”

“There’s so many good stories,” said Mr. Otte. “Everybody’s been so great. The support has been phenomenal. Hopefully it’s because we do things the right way and for the right reason.”

“Thirty years went by very quickly,” he said. “St. Henry is a great place to be.”

Post retirement, Father Vogepohl plans an active ministry

Laura Keener, Editor.

During a drive-in celebration, June 7, parishioners at Blessed Sacrament Parish bid their pastor, Father Daniel Vogelpohl, a well-earned retirement.

Addressing attendees from the rectory balcony, Father Vogelpohl said, “In about one month, I will have been here at Blessed Sacrament and Ft. Mitchell for 21 years. There is nowhere else that I have lived that long, not even my childhood home. What this means to me is that you have truly become my family.”

“After 45 years of dedicated ministry Father Daniel Vogelpohl is going to lay down the burden of administration and enter into a well-deserved retirement from administrative duties,” said Bishop Roger Foys.

Bishop Richard Ackerman ordained Father Vogelpohl a priest for the Diocese of Covington, May 17, 1975. Since that time he has been associate pastor at St. Agnes Parish, Ft. Wright (1975–1978); St. Joseph Parish, Crescent Springs (1980–1984); Sacred Heart Parish, Bellevue (1984–1985); chaplain at St. Joseph Heights, Covington (1990–1993) and pastor at St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Ft. Thomas (1993–1999) and Blessed Sacrament Parish, Ft. Mitchell (1999–2020). At the diocesan level he has been director of the RCIA, Catechesis and Evangelization Office and Office of Worship (1986–1988). He is the author of the Messenger’s longest running column — 34 years — “Eighth Day.” Nationally, he was elected to the executive board of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (1991).

“Father Dan is a liturgist and he has really helped me,” said Deacon James Fortner. Deacon Fortner has been a member of Blessed Sacrament since 2001 and was ordained a deacon last year.

Deacon Fortner said he has known “about” Father Vogelpohl his entire life and their lives would crisscross many times. They both attended St. Anthony School, Taylor Mill. Father Vogelpohl was friends with Deacon Fortner’s older brother. They really began to know each other at St. Catherine Parish in 1993 where Deacon Fortner and his wife, Julie, were beginning their married life and family and Father Vogelpohl his first pastorate. In 2001 the Fortners moved to Ft. Mitchell and joined Blessed Sacrament Parish and Father Vogelpohl became their pastor once again.

Deacon Fortner said that Father Vogelpohl is an “excellent” teacher and that he is always willing to share his knowledge — from how to pronounce a word to the best place to position a microphone.

“He’s really humble about it,” said Deacon Fortner. “He will share his wisdom but you have to ask. He has made me more confident in my ministry.”

Bishop Foys also praised Father Vogelpohl as a gifted liturgist.

“I know firsthand how competent and meticulous he is regarding the liturgy,” said Bishop Foys. “Father Vogelpohl directed my consecration and installation as the 10th Bishop of Covington 18 years ago. It is a ceremony with a hundred moving parts and Father Vogelpohl had them all running like clockwork. I have always been grateful to him for that.”

Father Vogelpohl has also taught at Covington Latin School (1975–1980 and 1984–1985) and, as pastor of a feeder-school, was a sacramental minister at Covington Catholic High School. At the parish, Deacon Fortner said that Father Vogelpohl is an “empowering administrator. He creates a real positive work environment for his staff.”
“As a priest I find that you really need to have trust in the laity,” said Father Vogelpohl. “My stance as a pastor has always been to empower the members of the parish to do the work of the parish and it’s never backfired on me.”

Father Vogelpohl said that whenever a parishioner would ask if they could begin a ministry or project, as long as it wasn’t anti-Catholic or heretical, he would encourage them. “Often that has resulted in the blossoming of some very beautiful things,” he said.

And in his priestly ministry he was devoted to his parishioners. “I watch people all the time come to him for confession or for a blessing and he drops everything and goes,” Deacon Fortner said.

Father Vogelpohl enjoys traveling and has often led pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land. He said he enjoys being able to add to the tour guide’s explanations by sharing his own experiences, like what it was like to be in St. Peter’s Square as the white smoke emerged announcing the election of Pope Francis or taking the group to “must-see” places not on the scheduled tour.

One of Father Vogelpohl’s favorite places is Assisi. “Everyone says they are going to spend two nights there and I say it’s not enough. You need to be there longer just to absorb the serenity of the place.”

Serenity is a state that Father Vogelpohl said he seeks often. At least once a year he travels to his favorite spot in Florida and does nothing but read, pray and walk on the beach.

For his retirement home he is not traveling far. He will be living in Lakeside Park and he said that he is looking forward to helping his brother priests whenever they need him.

“I think it will be fun going to different parishes,” he said. Father Vogelpohl also is looking forward to helping out at St. Elizabeth Healthcare. “I plan to be very active,” he said.

With the COVID-19 pandemic reaching full pitch these last few weeks, Father Vogelpohl’s pastorate did not end in the way he or his parishioners would have expected or were planning.

“I was grateful that we got back to some form of public celebration of the Mass before I retired,” Father Vogelpohl said. And, he found a silver lining. “I was in a panic as to when I might have time to pack up all of the things I had accumulated over 21 years. I needed to do some purging and donating and I wondered when would I have the time? All of a sudden I had all the time in the world.”

When asked who has encouraged him throughout his priesthood, Father Vogelpohl unhesitatingly said the late Archbishop Harry Flynn of Minneapolis, St. Paul.

“He had been my rector in theology at seminary and he was always a real inspiration to me — extremely kind, extremely prayerful man. I always found myself saying that I want to be like Harry.”

Father Vogelpohl also speaks highly of his classmate and friend Father James Ryan, who died last year. “His death was like losing a family member for me.”

“As a priest I have served four bishops and all of those bishops, including Bishop Foys, have been extremely supportive. That’s always a blessing,” he said.

About his vocation Father Vogelpohl said, “I have been blessed. I have always loved my life as a priest, and I am so grateful to Almighty God for calling me to this wonderful life and for walking with me every step of the way. Yes, there were difficult days from time to time. But never once have I ever regretted my calling. I cannot imagine myself having lived any other life.”

Bishop Foys offers Father Vogelpohl his sincere congratulations.

“In his 45 years of ministry as a high school instructor, head of the diocesan worship office, and a parish priest, Father Vogelpohl has touched the hearts and lives of thousands,” Bishop Foys said. “His involvement in the community at large has been exemplary and you can find him at most all of the many gatherings that happen in a given year to support worthwhile efforts. I wish him well as he moves into this new phase of his life and pray that he has many more happy and fulfilling years as a priest. Ad multos annos!”

Youth Minister

Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Burlington, Ky. is looking for an energetic, faith-filled, actively practicing Catholic to coordinate and lead our parish Youth Ministry program. The Youth Minister plans and facilitates the activities of junior high youth, especially Life Teen EDGE for seventh and eighth graders, and Life Teen for high school youth, training and meeting regularly with youth leadership in the parish. Desired qualifications include at least a Bachelor’s degree in religious education, teaching, or a related area, and/or previous experience in Church ministry. For a full job description or to submit a resume, please contact Fr. Jim Schaeper at [email protected].

This summer, what will you do with the time that’s been given to you?

David Cooley, Messenger Contributor.

No one could have guessed at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year how things would end abruptly before the month of April. It is fair to say that many people are grieving in some way, and rightly so. Instead of the usual end-of-the-year excitement and celebrations, there has been isolation and distance among friends. For us Catholics, the most difficult thing has been being away from our Lord in the sacraments and being away from our parish communities. For many youth who were enjoying a significant year in school, things came to a rather anti-climactic end. Of course, none of this is to even mention those that have suffered through illness or have lost loved ones who were very dear to them. Yet on the other hand, I think it is also fair to say that 2020 will not fade away from our memories anytime soon. At the very least it has been unique, caused us to pause, and perhaps forced us to look at things in a different way.

But now summer has crept in, virtually unnoticed, and we are faced with a new set of dilemmas. For the most part public Masses have opened up again — a true blessing — but “to go, or not to go; that is the question.” There is, after all, still a dispensation in place from our bishop through the end of the season. “But, Lord, how can we stay away from you, and where should we go?” And, for the most part, everything else that involves large gatherings but deemed “unnecessary” has been canceled altogether. In other words, this means that, for those with children of any age in the house, there are no summer camps, and, more importantly, no Vacation/Vocation Bible School! Summer cannot be a time for youth to take a vacation from their Catholic faith. In this day and age the stakes are just too high. There are too many entities out there, mostly dark, battling for their hearts and attention.

Again, this is an opportunity for us to pause, and truly reflect on the important truth that our homes are meant to be a domestic church. No matter what is going on outside our doors, we are an Easter people and our time on this earth should be filled with joy because we know the good news of Jesus Christ. We know that everything is in God’s hands. As Catholics, we are called to be a light in the darkness, a sign of God’s love for all people. It all starts in the home and, if we happen to be parents, we must set an example for our children.
So what are some concrete things families can do?

First, find ways to stay connected to the Church. Make sure your family experiences the Mass at least once each week, even if you decide to live stream it or watch a recording. Additionally, try to organize parish activities that utilize safe distance procedures; for example, a Monday night rosary group that prays together via video conferencing. At the very least families should pray together daily, take turns writing prayers or leading reflections on the mysteries of the rosary. Make sure your child has an age-appropriate style Bible. That is so crucial, and these days there is virtually a limitless selection.

Pay close attention to feast days, learn about the saints together — celebrate St. Thomas More with a virtual tour of the Tower of London. There are many ways to make history come alive. Read daily devotionals together. Make chalk drawings of your favorite Bible stories or stained-glass windows. When July rolls around, sew a “God Bless America” quilt or table runner. Bake home-made “Eucharist” (flat) bread and talk about the Passover in Exodus, the Last Supper and the Blessed Sacrament. Find other meals, foods and drinks to try from biblical times. Discover new Catholic arts and craft ideas via the internet.

It is necessary to be creative and keep young people engaged the best we can during these challenging times. Never miss an opportunity to address important issues and demonstrate how God is at work in the world today. Read a small section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church every day and discuss it as a family. All these thoughts just scratch the surface of the possibilities.

One final idea, and I wish I could tell you that I came up with this because I love it so much. There is a website called freemake.com (and I’m sure there are others). On this website users can import photos, movie clips and audio files to create videos/slideshows, etc. Early in the week, look at the Scripture readings for the following Sunday, then, as a family, make a video that tells the entire Gospel story. The great thing about this project is that you can then share the video your family makes each week on social media and evangelize to others without leaving your house. And, of course, you are well prepared for Sunday’s Mass.

In preparing to write this article one of my favorite passages from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” kept popping into my head. In dealing with challenging times and a cross to bear, Frodo the Hobbit says to Gandalf the Wizard: “I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.” To which Gandalf replies: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

How true! Seasons come and go. Typically in the summer we have a little bit more time on our hands; that might be particularly true this year. So what will you decide to do with the time that is given to you?

David Cooley is co-director and office manager of the Office of Catechesis and Evangelization in the Diocese of Covington.

St. Vincent de Paul finds new ways to reach neighbors from a distance

Allegra Thatcher, Assistant Editor.

A global pandemic didn’t stop the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Northern Kentucky from helping a multitude of those in need this spring — in fact, it bolstered their creative efforts.

With stores reopening Monday, June 1, executive director Karen Zengel shared how the organization continued to assist its neighbors while their normal outreach methods were limited.

“We were worried when we closed our stores in March because the stores fund a significant part of the outreach that we provide to the community,” said Ms. Zengel. “We knew that there was going to be so much need throughout this and initially we were worried about our ability to meet that need.”

But the local community “stepped forward and took care of us, and as a result took care of their neighbors,” she said. “Through the support of different regional response funds that came together as well as the support of our generous financial donors, they answered the call and came through and allowed us to continue to serve. We’ve done even more than we’ve done in the past in terms of Vincentian outreach. That whole experience was just amazing and absolutely moving.”

One of her major concerns was how to help those who reach out for emergency financial assistance, and those who usually receive home visits from Vincentians. That concern developed into a new vision for outreach.

The Vincentians are now making phone calls instead of home visits, and they’ve even reached beyond the normal conference of their local St. Vincent de Paul.

“There are some areas in Northern Kentucky where we don’t have an active conference, so what would normally happen is if someone called for help who lived in that area, we would have to refer them to another organization to be able to help them, especially with financial assistance,” said Ms. Zengel.

Ms. Zengel said she couldn’t imagine turning people away during the current health and financial crisis.

“Imagine if you’ve just lost your job. You hear about St. Vincent de Paul and you think ‘Thank goodness, there’s someone who says they can help me,’ and we say, ‘We’re sorry, we don’t have a group of active volunteers who live in your area.’”

A group of Vincentians therefore made the commitment to address calls that fell outside of the areas where they typically served, and the difference was amazing, said Ms. Zengel. They helped 259 additional households for a total of almost $28,000 in emergency financial assistance, which includes rent and utility assistance.

Another way they stepped up service was by expanding Erlanger and Falmouth food pantry services from walk-in to drive through as well as home delivery. Utilizing their contact list, the society had families drive through the donation line and the manager and another employee or two would load the food into their cars from a safe physical distance. For those who couldn’t make it to the physical pantry, employees drove food and supplies to their homes and left them on the porch.

As the society prepares to re-open its stores to the public, Ms. Zengel said it’s been a busy month of May to study Healthy at Work plans and train the team.

“Kroger has been a wonderful example for protocols to implement for the business community,” she said. “We adopted a lot of their protocols: our employees go through temperature and wellness checks every day before they enter the building, the cleaning regimen is similar, wearing masks in the building, wearing gloves when handling donations, making sure we’re educating our team about their own wellness.”

She and her team have adjusted the layout of the stores to allow customers to maintain distance while shopping, and the number of people inside at any given time will be limited.

They are also giving priority to voucher customers, who receive basic necessities through store credit. These neighbors make an appointment so they have the opportunity to get what they need before other shoppers come in. Ms. Zengel said they’ve already returned, by appointment, to the store as of last week. To make the experience special, the staff has even extended special gestures like giving children toys on their way out or picking out their own new shoes.

So while home visits are still suspended and the stores may look different upon opening, St. Vincent de Paul is busier than ever in meeting the needs of its neighbors in meaningful ways.

“I can’t describe how wonderful our community has been through all of this,” said Ms. Zengel. “I think that we all felt helpless and we wanted to help in some way, and whether people dropped off material donations or contributed financially, or encouraged us on social media, the love that people shared during this time was overwhelming. I want to thank everyone who helped us continue to march forward and not leave anyone behind.”