As news broke about COVID-19 community infections in Arizona, St. Vincent de Paul quickly and nimbly pivoted its programs to protect community health while ensuring not a single day of service was missed. That successful transition could not have happened without its dedicated staff.
“All of our staff is so important and crucial in furthering our mission, but we know the special and personal sacrifice our on-site staff members make in showing up in-person every day for those in need,” Executive Director Steve Zabilski said. “I will forever be grateful to them and to all our staff who daily demonstrate tremendous resiliency, flexibility, dedication and compassion with nothing but cheerfulness and humility in these trying times.”
In this two-part blog series honoring on-site and front line staff, get to know a few of the many people who help keep SVdP’s doors open, and it’s services available to some of the most vulnerable individuals and families living in the community.
Resource Center Support Specialist
When people experiencing homeless visit SVdP’s Resource Center for relief, it will often be Yvette handing them a fresh pair of socks, a hygiene kit and sack lunch to-go. She’s one of a handful of staff that continues to be there for some of SVdP’s most vulnerable guests so that they can survive another day with basic needs met.
“Where else would they go? There’s nobody else unless they’re willing to make a trek to the next service agency downtown. We have to be here so that they can stay safe too. This is their safe place to be.”
Kitchen Team Lead
Chris calls himself “the conductor of the kitchen.” Every day he helps coordinate all the moving people and parts that go into making SVdP meals a success – overseeing shipments, coordinating truck deliveries, stocking and storing the food and making sure all ingredients are thawed on time for cooking. But these days he and the rest of the kitchen crew focus their efforts to fit menus for SVdP’s to-go meal service. That’s less cooking and lots of sandwiches and easily wrapped and packed food paired with snacks and bottles of water. The team will also work alongside restaurant partners, who SVdP helps support by paying a reduced price for meals. Sometimes the teams will pack meals on-site.
“Every day we make thousands of sandwiches and lunches for people in need. If we weren’t here, someone else would have to do that, and we would be pulling them from another service team that needs their help and expertise.”
Every hour Rosa helps sanitize the Family Dining Room, bathrooms, halls and all the high-touch areas of SVdP’s main campus. She’s always been thorough, but with such a contagious virus, she’s extra meticulous in her cleaning. In between hours, she’ll join the kitchen staff effort to make thousands of peanut butter sandwiches.
“It’s my job to get rid of the virus and disinfect as much as possible so that people can keep coming to work and not get sick. People need us for help, and if we don’t take care to not get sick then we won’t be able to help them.”
Family Dining Room Manager
Taylor helps organize the to-go meal service out of the Family Dining Room and hands out meals from the drive-thru window. Helping manage the operation is a demanding job, from coordinating the food preparation to organizing the distribution. Usually, she has the help of at least 30 volunteers, but now it’s an on-site team of five staff members getting the job done.
“My coworkers inspire me! And seeing families every day. We work hard every day, so we get to see the families. And I think that for them to get out of the house and see us, it reminds each other of what SVdP looked like before all of this happened. It provides that human connection we need.”
Information Technology Director
Tucked away in the technology den on the northernmost part of SVdP’s main campus, Eddie mans the machines. As the IT director, he’s constantly checking that all technology systems--including internet, phones, email, shared drives, servers and more, are up and running.
“It’s especially important right now with so many of our staff working remotely and with making sure that we continue to keep our phones, website and emails up for people in crisis during the pandemic.”
Food Reclamation Distribution Supervisor
Every day Sylvia helps load and load trucks of food donations, making sure that all the food coming in gets processed and distributed to SVdP’s 80+ neighborhood food pantries.
“The need and the food doesn’t stop. We have to be here too because it’s an everyday thing.”
Help support SVdP's COVID-19 relief effort and the staff who make it possible.
Give online at stvincentdepaul.net/COVID19Relief