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Catholic Voice
March 4, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 5   •   Oakland, CA
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Faith in action:
Lay ministers aid in Church life

Parish's Little Houses offer help for families

Ron Wenzler, Our Lady of the Rosary parish representative to FESCO, Anthony O'Singh, a sixth-grader at Our Lady of the Rosary School, and Father José León, far right, present a Little House for the Homeless to Gay McDaniel, FESCO executive director.

The children of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Union City — from the school and faith formation programs — put colored pencils and pens to plain takeout food boxes, turning them into little houses. One in particular had precisely drawn bricks on the front, red tiles on the roof, and a row of flowers blooming from rectangular boxes on the sides.

At the beginning of Advent, parishioners were invited to take home a "Little House" and put offerings into them to assist families through the Family Emergency Shelter Coalition, or FESCO. Last year Our Lady of the Rosary became one of the 30 congregations and other entities supporting the shelter, which was founded in 1986.

In becoming a member of FESCO, Our Lady of the Rosary joins its Hayward neighbors All Saints, St. Bede, St. Clement and St. Joachim; Castro Valley's Our Lady of Grace and Transfiguration; and San Lorenzo's St. John the Baptist.

One of the young artists was Anthony O'Singh, 11. Last year he walked in the shelter's annual fundraising event, the Shelter Shuffle. When the sixth-grader at Our Lady of the Rosary School was asked, along with his classmates, to help out in an Advent fundraising drive, he already knew who his work would be helping.

Making change add up

• Give up treats

• Take coffee from home one day a week

• Rent a DVD instead of going to the movies

• At the end of each day, put the change in your pocket into the Little House

Our Lady of the Rosary Church

Shelter Shuffle

A fundraiser for Family Emergency Shelter Coalition

May 18

Information: www.fescofamilyshelter.org
"It feels good," Anthony said. "I can help people who don't have as much as I do."

The parish put out about 450 Little Houses. Once they ran out, envelopes stamped with FESCO's name were made available. With them came a list of 10 suggestions for ways to contribute, such as skipping the coffee shop one day and renting a DVD instead of taking the family to the movies.

Parishioners were asked to return the Little Houses the Sunday after Christmas. Through Feb. 7, 119 Little Houses were turned in, along with 31 envelopes.

It was in one of those Little Houses — the one with the bricks, red tiles and flower boxes — that Rev. José León, pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary, along with two parishioners, presented a check for $3,231 to FESCO executive director Gay McDaniel.

Ron Wenzler, the parish's representative to the shelter's board, and Anthony O'Singh joined in making the presentation, which included an additional check for $100.

"People are very generous to the homeless and poor," Father León said of his parishioners. In addition to the Little House donations during Advent, he said, parishioners provided cash donations which provided 110 Christmas baskets and gifts for families who needed them.

"When it comes to the poor, there's something about this parish," he said. "We are really good at this. I am proud of that."

The parishioners' generosity has not been deterred by the challenging economy. "They've come through," he said.

As a member of FESCO, the parish, which has 3,000 families, is responsible for annual dues to the shelter organization, as well as providing a member of the board, and participation in two fundraising events.

The shelter holds an annual walk, dubbed the Shelter Shuffle, each May. Last year, the walkers from our Lady of the Rosary included the pastor's dog, Payaso, the top fundraiser for the parish.

Every dollar counts for FESCO, which operates an emergency shelter, serving more than 100 families a year, and transitional shelter. About 40 percent of its operating budget comes from foundations, businesses and individuals, with the remainder from government grants.

"Our mission is to serve families with children," said McDaniel, who joined FESCO last fall.

At Anthony's home, the Little House at his house had a place of honor … so much so that he said his mother took it with her when they went places, inviting others to donate.

At Our Lady of the Rosary, the Little Houses that were returned will be saved and put out when Advent rolls around this year.

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