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  October 9, 2006VOL. 44, NO. 17Oakland, CA

articles list


Students avert food crisis at Monument Crisis Center

Diocese’s oldest active pastor steps down at 88

Border fence ok'd; religious leaders lament

Church in Cuba
has no political role at present

U.S. anti-terrorism focus said to hinder work of Catholic groups aiding poor

Chaplains help troops make decisions in moral no man’s land

Just-war thinkers address
postwar obligations for U.S.

Proposal on chaplains’ prayers could hurt U.S. military, archbishop says

Vatican aims to put Christian values back in sports

Diocese offers formation programs
for catechists and lay ministers

National conference in S.F. to focus
on Catholic response to global poverty

International Day to Eradicate Poverty

Regional youth rally to take place Oct. 28 in Hayward

Jesuit School in Berkeley dedicates
new chapel and academic center

Salesian High to retire Chieftain mascot
seen as offensive to native peoples

Local groups awarded
CCHD self-help grants

Independent film explores emotion and trauma of military moms

Groups provide faith-based political guidance

Proposition 1C
Let California be known as a place where all have a home of their own

Proposition 85
Parental notification can help stop statutory rape, child molestation

Surviving sex abuse: A day-to-day struggle to keep going

Sister Estelle Meiers, PBVM
Brother Robert Smith, FSC
Katherine (Kay) Fleischer

























Students avert food crisis
at Monument Crisis Center

The prospect of having empty shelves is every food pantry’s most dreaded fear. When the worry actually materialized Sept. 20 at Monument Crisis Center in Concord, director Sandra Scherer was left with one alternative. She had to close the doors.

Never mind all the hungry families who were depending upon their four-day supply of groceries to help them get through the rest of month. “Our volunteers and staff were so upset,” said Scherer.

But their distress did not last long. Around lunch time the next day, they all watched with gratitude and amazement as SUVs and vans overflowing with canned goods and produce pulled up outside the Center. Overnight, the shelves went from empty to over 1800 pounds of food with another 2200 pounds coming in over the next couple of days.

The amazing outpouring of generosity resulted from one Carondelet High School student’s phone call to her elementary school principal and a series of emergency e-mails sent throughout Concord, Pleasant Hill and Lafayette. Here’s the background on what transpired.

Carondelet senior Madeline Ziser and 26 of her classmates are enrolled in a religion class called “Community Service/Gospels in Action,” taught by Sister Dorothy Stack. One of the requirements for the course is to volunteer at nonprofit organizations, such as Monument Crisis Center, where Sister Stack serves as a board member.

When the student volunteers told Madeline about the empty shelves they had encountered that morning, she had a flash of inspiration on how to turn things around. An alumna of St. Perpetua School in Lafayette, the young woman remembered what a go-getter her former principal is and suggested that Sister Stack phone Kathleen Radecke to see if she would mobilize parents and students around a quickie marathon food drive.

Madeline Ziser


Students from Carondelet High School help stack the shelves at Monument Crisis Center.

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It was one way that Madeline felt she could help since she has not been able to volunteer with her friends at the Crisis Center. She is recovering from a brain tumor and the effects of radiation and chemotherapy. Crowded situations can compromise her immune system.

So Madeline is fulfilling her class requirements by helping Sister Stack with office correspondence. And, since Sept. 20, by networking.

Radecke, who acknowledges that she is always looking for ways to incorporate social justice teachings into grades K through 8, immediately paid a visit to every classroom, alerting the children to the plight of Monument Crisis Center. She asked them to bring food to school the next day. Radecke then followed up by logging on to the school’s parents emergency e-mail system, asking for their help as well.

The next morning, St. Perpetua’s corridors were overflowing with canned goods, dry packaged dinners and produce, including some pears a little girl had picked “before the squirrels ate them,” she told her principal.

Radecke led a prayer service, encouraging the children to reflect upon the “why” they are called to service and “how” participating made them feel. Then a group of parents loaded the food into their vehicles and caravaned it to the Crisis Center.

Meanwhile, Sister Dorothy Stack phoned other parish schools in the Concord-Pleasant Hill areas. They, too, contacted parents. Carondelet and De LaSalle students collected food at their Welcome Dance.

Final results: a total of 4,000 pounds of food – 1800 from St. Perpetua; 1200 from Carondelet and De La Salle; 336 from St. Francis of Assisi School in Concord, 232 pounds from Christ the King in Pleasant Hill and 432 from St. Raymond School in Dublin.

Asked how the original scarcity occurred, director Sandra Scherer explained that last July the Center moved to a larger location on Monument Boulevard, and immediately saw an increase in new clients in addition to its 800 regulars who receive a three-four day supply of fresh and packaged food each month.

“Since our July 19 re-opening, we’ve registered over 200 new client families,” she said.

Donations are always slow during summertime when people go on vacation, but for some reason, response had not picked up at its customary rate, Scherer said. To make matters worse, Monument could not resupply through the Contra Costa and Solano Food Banks, because they, too, had seen a seasonal drop in food donations.

Scherer said the school donations were “extraordinary” and filled an emergency situation. But she emphasized that the need for food continues. Several corporations, however, have stepped up to the plate in recent days, including Wells-Fargo, the Chevron Refinery in Richmond and Dow Chemical. Latino employees at the latter company are spearheading a food drive there.

Last year, Monument Crisis Center served 32,500 people. “It just isn’t Thanksgiving and Christmas that families need food.” said Scherer, who is a member of Christ the King Parish in Pleasant Hill. People are hungry all year round.

For further information on how to help Monument Crisis Center, contact Liz Eckstein at (925)-825-7751, or log on to www.monumentcrisiscenter.org.

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