There are times when we could all use a helping hand and other times when we could lend one, and that’s the underlying sentiment behind Neighbors In Need Neighbors In Deed (NIN NID) – a program that connects St. Joseph’s parishioners with neighbors who could use a little assistance or just some cheering up.
“Our pastoral care and outreach ministries recognize that charity begins at home,” Fr. Joe White said, “and opens our eyes the needs of our sisters and brothers here and beyond our local areas.”
The program began several years ago as a branch of its “tree and outreach efforts,” said Fr. White, as a way to respond to the needs of seniors, those living alone and other vulnerable people living in the community of the West End, Beacon Hill, Government Center and the North End. Those in need would communicate their needs to the church, which would in turn put them in touch with a parishioner willing to run to the grocery store for them, bake them bread, drop by a for visit or just send them a card – whatever it is that they personally want and need.
“Some aren’t able to be the active suppliers and deliverers and still there’s been a role for them, too,” Fr. White added. “Some provide finances, and there’s arrangements made for local markets to fulfill deliveries. Others provide gift cards for the NIN NID efforts.”
Sometimes those giving go beyond providing their recipient with just the essentials, Fr. White said, as was the case with one Beacon Hill parishioner, who, upon learning that their person in need had a strong affinity for artichokes, included a few of them in the supplies for delivery. The recipient only speaks Italian, Fr. White added, but the joy he showed upon seeing the artichokes transcended any language barrier.
“One individual able to be the one In Deed connects with the one In need,” Fr. White said, “and the miraculous irony of it is that the one In Deed receives so much more from the one In Need.”
Reaching out to the homeless and the marginalized is also an integral part of NIN NID, Fr. White said, and through one of its initiatives called Go Sox, which launched on Opening Day of the Red Sox’s 2018 season, Individual Care bags of socks, hygiene items, water and power bars are distributed outside the church and on the nearby streets.
NIN NID has seen the demand for its services increase four-fold since the pandemic struck one year ago, Fr. White said, because as more people have chosen not to leave their homes, the need to have milk, bread, fruit and veggies, and other basic items delivered to them has grown exponentially. “One-to-one phone contact and personal delivery drop-off simply grew organically,” he added.
The program, meanwhile, has proven sustainable as one-time recipients of its services are now stepping up to help out their Neighbors In Need.
“Some of those who have received and reaped the benefits have in turn become Neighbors In Deed after being after being Neighbors in Need,” Fr. White said. “I think it’s very circular [because] out of suffering comes caring and concern.”
For more information on NIN NID, visit stjosephboston.org under “Parish Outreach” or call St. Joseph’s parish office at 617-523-4342.