RICHMOND – Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholic Charities is transforming its annual Mission of Love gala from the traditional live event held in September to a web-based campaign that launches this summer. The effort raises funds for the Mamie George Community Center (MGCC) in Richmond, the Fort Bend County hub for services provided by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
For the last six years, the Mission of Love gala has been instrumental to the Mamie George Community Center’s growth and success in serving the most poor and vulnerable in Fort Bend County.
“Although we call this a time of uncertainty, we can be certain that the people of Fort Bend County are generous and will continue to support our mission,” said MGCC Executive Director Gladys Brumfield-James. “We hope to be able to hold an in-person wrap-up celebration in mid-September. If it’s still not safe to gather in groups, we will celebrate in every other way to thank the generous donors of Fort Bend County.”
MGCC depends on funds raised through Mission of Love to provide services to seniors, families, young parents and others who struggle with every day challenges brought on by insufficient financial resources.
“Every dollar given to the Mission of Love 2020 campaign goes directly to support Catholic Charities’ work in Fort Bend County,” said Lisa Emiliani, who along with fellow member of Catholic Charities Fort Bend Advisory Board, Shanda Conroy, co-chairs the effort. Said Conroy, “Catholic Charities truly changes lives and creates a future for individuals and their families in Fort Bend County.”
In pre-pandemic days, hundreds of seniors came to the Mamie George Community Center for fellowship, activities and nutritious weekday meals. These seniors must now stay home for their own protection. To supply their nutritional needs, MGCC volunteers and staff have delivered 3,400 shelf-stable meals since mid-March to 264 seniors, and will continue to do so until the center can safely re-open.
Rather than bringing clients inside Trini’s Market, the food pantry at MGCC, Catholic Charities began enforcing safe social distancing early in the pandemic by asking clients to remain in their vehicles while food is loaded. Now, MGCC is serving as a Houston Food Bank Neighborhood Super Site, with a weekly distribution to up to 1,500 families each Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In the last three months, MGCC and its volunteers – many from the Catholic volunteer group Order of Malta – distributed 643,000 pounds of nonperishables, fresh produce and meat. Compare that to all of the previous year, when Trini’s Market distributed 567,000 pounds of food.
Other clients are served by email, phone calls or web-based meetings as MGCC staff check in to discuss their need for financial or other assistance.
Mission of Love campaign honorees are Tom and Norma Petrosewicz, “a couple whose generosity, humility, and leadership have benefited the whole Fort Bend Community for years,” said Brumfield-James.
Attorney Norma Petrosewicz is chair of the Madison Foundation, which makes a generous annual gift to MGCC in addition to the couple’s personal support. Both are active at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Richmond, where Mr. Petrosewicz, a retired accountant, chairs the parish finance council. In addition, the couple have been active in the Central Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce.