Last August, the Guzman Community held an End-of-Summer barbecue. Sisters gathered over hamburgers, hotdogs, and ice cream; however, the fun didn’t end there. The group decided to use the event to support a local nonprofit that matters to them. Because the barbecue was held in Newburgh, NY, each of the twenty-plus attendees arrived with hygiene products for the Newburgh Ministry.

The donated goods

The bags of gifts, which included shampoo, conditioner, soaps, deodorant, toothbrushes, etc. (pictured right), were delivered to the Ministry.

The Newburgh Ministry is close to the heart of the Dominican Sisters of Hope. Founded in 1983, the Ministry is the result of five women religious –one of whom is a Dominican Sister of Hope– who decided to respond to the need they saw on the streets of Newburgh. While many residents chose to leave due to a weakening economy and increased poverty, these women rented a store front on Broadway, put on a pot of hot coffee, and invited people inside.

Thirty years later, the coffee pot is still perking. The Newburgh Ministry was incorporated in 1988; current programs include a pre-employment program that provides people with rides for job interviews, a play center for children, a thrift store, homework help, a medical clinic, jewelry making classes, and, of course, a hospitality center where people can stay overnight, come and talk, read the newspaper, play dominos, share stories, or just sit quietly.

Ministry in its early days

In an interview, Dominican Sister of Hope Margaret Anderson, who is on the Board of the Newburgh Ministry along with Dominican Sister of Hope Patricia Sullivan and laywomen Associates, says that the mission of the Newburgh Ministry has remained the same since its inception:

“The services offered are different, the place is different, but the focus remains the same: What are the needs of the people, and how do we meet those needs?”

Of course, personal hygeine is an inevitable need, one which the sisters are helping to meet.

A casual barbecue yielded a small act of kindness that could really make a difference for others.

Essentially, a casual barbecue for a group of sisters yielded a small act of kindness that could really make a difference for others. Before you move onto your weekend, consider this: How can you use an upcoming event to do some good? Asking barbecue guests to come with a personal hygeine product in-hand is just one way. Curious about other options? We have a bevy of suggestions for helping out your local food pantrytaking steps to help protect Earthvolunteering your time, or doing good in other ways. Choose one that interests you, and get started. After all, there’s no time like the present.

Sisters at this year’s barbecue