By Dave Jolivet
OSTERVILLE, Mass. — For most of us the availability of a good night’s sleep in a comfy bed is something we don’t even think about. It’s pretty much a given at the end of a tough day, folks look forward to a safe, secure night of rest.
For others it’s just a dream — or a nightmare. Countless men, women and children across the Diocese of Fall River don’t have the blessing of a roof over their heads, let alone a bed on which to lay their heads.
That’s the unfortunate facts from the Attleboros to Cape Cod and Islands. In fact many people don’t often equate homelessness with Cape Cod, the area being such a bustling, busy, crowded tourist attraction from May through September. But the fact remains that homelessness, including on Cape Cod, is an extensive and growing tragedy for many area neighbors.
For the parishioners of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Osterville and Our Lady of Victory Parish in Centerville, just knowing about the problem isn’t enough. For the past 13 years the parishes have joined forces to facilitate a major fund-raising event to help the hundreds in the area who are in dire need of shelter.
The annual Taste and See Cape Cod event utilizes the generosity of some mid-Cape restaurants that donate and serve tasting menus of their finest cuisines, all in the name of those who are homeless and hungry.
This year’s 14th annual event takes place at Oyster Harbors Club, 170 Grand Island Drive in Osterville, October 2 from 6 to 10 p.m. Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., and NBC-TV newswoman Anne Thompson, who is auctioning off a day with her at the NBC studios at Rockefeller Center in New York City, are scheduled to be on hand to assist in the event that includes a raw bar, wine tasting, auctions, and the opportunity for an evening of socializing and fun, all to help those who are suffering. This year’s goal is $100,000.
According to Mary and Joe Doolin of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, and cochairmen of the event, a featured aspect of the evening is the “Give a Bed” auction which raised more than $40,000 last year, 40 percent of the entire evening’s gross.
“Shelter providers have calculated that the cost of a bed for a night, the care and comfort for one person for a one-night stay is approximately $50,” said Mary Doolin. Auction participants are asked to bid on the number of nights they can. Last year’s total provided funds for 800 bed-nights on Cape Cod.
“It is our hope to be able to counteract in some small way, the drumbeat of negative publicity about homeless people here,” Mary said. “By working toward the goal of transitional housing for the poorest of the poor, we offer practical help for the here and now, as well as hope for the future,” added Joe.
Pastor of the two parishes, Father John J. Perry, said, “Because last winter was such a hard one for the people we help, people have been living in automobiles, ‘sofa-surfing’ from relative to friend, shelter availability has become an even more valuable commodity. That is why we are redoubling our efforts this year to make sure that everyone who needs a warm, safe place to go this coming winter, will have it.”
Father Mark R. Hession, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Seekonk, and a former long-time pastor of Our Lady of Victory, is this year’s honorary cochairman along with Father Perry. “We are working against the new normal,” said Father Hession. “Pope Francis has cited the reality of our times that when a homeless person dies in our streets it is not news. But when the stock market declines 10 percent, that is breaking news.”
“This is the reality we seek to work against,” added Father Perry.
Ways for folks across the diocese to help, in addition to attending the October 2 event, are by submitting an auction item, becoming a sponsor, or by “giving a bed,” with a donation.
In Psalm 34, David says, “This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; He saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.”
The poor man continues to call and the parishioners of Our Lady of the Assumption and Our Lady of Victory, year in and year out, hear that call by offering the annual Taste and See event; in order that the poor may taste and see that the Lord is good.
For information about the event and how to help, visit olvparish.org and click on the Taste and See link; visit either parish office; call Kelley Spodris at 508-775-5744, extension 113; or help provide a bed by sending a donation to Spodris at Our Lady of Victory, 230 South Main Street, Centerville, Mass. 02632.