MILTON – After many years of hopes, prayers and plans, Catholic Charities opened a new Casa San Francisco in Milton this past June. And on Nov. 5, donors, Charities officials and diocesan leaders gathered for the official dedication of the improved emergency shelter and food pantry facility.
“We’re doing exactly what Jesus encouraged his followers to do,” Bishop Malooly said on a warm, overcast afternoon. As he and others went outside following lunch for the dedication, a light rain began to fall, but it ended within a few minutes.
Catholics are called on to care for their neighbors, and that is what happens every day at Casa San Francisco, the bishop said. “For Jesus, there was never a stranger,” he said.
Melinda Woolf, the program manager, said the move had been in the works for years. The original Casa San Francisco, which opened in 1981, was held together with “spit and glue,” she said. The original structure, which is still standing, had been expanded several times as the needs of the community increased, “but it couldn’t hold up anymore. We definitely outgrew the building.”
The new facility has five bedrooms that can accommodate 12 people, compared to two bedrooms and six people. Each resident has his or her own nightstand and dresser, along with room to move around. There are five offices, a study, common room and a food-distribution center.
Casa provides all of the services Catholic Charities offers: case management, basic needs assistance, energy assistance and food, among others. Woolf said Casa helps more than 450 families in Sussex County with food assistance; about 10,000 pounds of food moves in and out of the building each month.
The new building was constructed on what was the agency’s parking lot. Once the old building is moved, that site will become parking. The original structure is considered historic.