St. Jude Center: best on L.I.

Wantagh volunteers help families in Seaford


The St. Jude Mission Center in Seaford, whose Mother and Child Ministry helps about 25 families in need each week, has been named Best Not for Profit Organization in the Long Island Press’s 2018 Bethpage Best of LI competition.

Calling it a “beacon of hope for the community,” the judges chose the center from among 17 nominees. Its programs include the Mother and Child Ministry, which provides essentials to parents in need; the PB&J Brigade, for which teens and adults make sandwiches for women’s shelters and ministry guests; the Heaven’s Harvest Pantry, which provides food and toiletries; and St. Michael’s Meal, which will soon begin offering a family-style Wednesday-night dinner, open to everyone in the community.

Under the guidance of Program Director Barbara Rice Thompson, volunteers for the Church of St Jude, in Wantagh, run the food pantry and distribution center at the Church of St. Michael’s and All Angels in Seaford.

Each week, the mission center helps 25 to 28 families (with an average of three family members per household). That adds up to more than 1,400 people in just over a year that the center has been open. Those served are from all over southeast Nassau and western Suffolk counties. While “it’s open to all in need,” St. Jude Parish spokeswoman Jennifer Garbowski said, “it’s geared toward the most vulnerable in the community: mothers and young children.”

Garbowski, whose daughters — along with many other St Jude’s parishioners, young and old — volunteer for the mission center, said that while the majority of donations come from individuals, it also receives donations from other area churches and synagogues, fraternal organizations, volunteer groups such as the Boy and Girl Scouts and the Civil Air Patrol, area businesses and student groups. Corporate donations are also welcome, she said.

The Very Rev. Christopher Hofer of the Church of St. Jude said it was an honor to receive this award for the mission center. “I’m grateful to our leadership team, all of our volunteers, all those who continue to make donations, and most importantly, our guests, as we are in mission for them,” Hofer said.

“You know an organization really cares about what it’s doing when it doesn’t make any sort of profit from its work,” the Best of LI judges wrote of the mission center. “Workers are usually volunteers, and the organizatwion functions on donations and sponsors that go directly to benefiting its cause.”

The Mother and Child Ministry and Heaven’s Harvest Pantry are open Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. and Thursdays from 4 to 7 p.m. The PB&J Brigade distributes sandwiches and bagels on Wednesdays from 4 to 8 p.m.