St. Marianne’s Boutique at Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen will be freshly painted, reorganized and newly stocked when it reopens in August to serve homeless and low-income people, Coordinator Nancy Robert reports.

She points to volunteers who are making it happen, and donors who are answering her prayers.

Nancy Robert (right) with (from left) Lynda Briggs, Julie Crandall and Pat McCraith, who have been preparing the boutique for reopening.
Nancy Robert (right) with (from left) Lynda Briggs, Julie Crandall and Pat McCraith, who have been preparing the boutique for reopening.

During the pandemic, donors so far have provided socks, sneakers, toiletries and other clothing.

Among the volunteers are two parishioners (wishing to remain anonymous) who repainted the classroom-turned-boutique.

Regular volunteers (like Lynda Briggs, Julie Crandall, Pat McCraith, Vicky Riordan, Tracey Pietruszkto) are sorting and organizing personal care products, clothing and other items.

Students
From left: Richard, Cassandra, Danielle, Grace and Leon. Photo by Nancy Robert.

Then there is Grace Zhang, who just completed her freshman year at Cornell University. She obtained a Cornell grant to help the soup kitchen and boutique, and recruited a group of New Hartford High School students (Richard Chen, Cassandra Koziol, Danielle Mesi, Leon Zong). They have been coming to the soup kitchen every week, initially donating toiletries and virus-protection supplies, and then helping to reorganize the boutique displays and do whatever is needed for reopening (such as sorting and labeling clothing).

“To help communities suffering from the pandemic, Cornell created a ‘Serve-In-Place Grant’ for students,” Grace notes. She applied for one on behalf of the local Front-Line Appreciation Group (FLAG), which has been “delivering snacks and supplies to 30 different hospital units and other front-line groups” like police and fire departments, and soup kitchens. “I’ve been in charge of coordinating deliveries to St. Marianne’s Boutique and Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen.”

The students, Nancy notes, “are such an asset to the boutique and the people we serve.”

PHOTO AT TOP: Grace Zhang (center) with Leon Zong (left) and Richard Chen.