Father Tony O’Neill, Deacon Del Wilkinson and Deacon Jeremy Bock joined in the celebration. Hedba quoted Matthew 25:35-36, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
The Grace Family Center houses the Westonka Food Shelf and Pennywise Thrift Shop.
“Having Archbishop Hebda’s blessing of the new building shows his commitment to helping those in need,” O’Neill said. “This has been a two year process and Archbishop Hebda along with myself want to recognize the work done by the parish and community to make this happen.”
The project was fully funded by donations within the community. Our Lady of the Lake’s commitment to service calls it’s parishioners to give of their time, talent and treasure. The Grace Family Center is a culmination of those gifts.
“Someone would walk in and say ‘what do you need?’ and the next week, it would show up.” Food Shelf Director Shelley Sir said. “Everything was donated, from our beautiful display cases and shelving to the custom lighting, table and chairs in the meeting room. The success of the project reaffirmed that this ministry was the right thing to do. God wanted us to do this.”
“We wanted it to be like they’re stepping into a real store,” O’Neill said. “Everything about the building, the fact that it’s a well-built and handsome building, communicates to the person who walks in there that we think they’re worth that.”
The building was standing room only during the blessing. Hebda then celebrated mass after the blessing at the church. Our Lady of the Lake students greeted community members and parishioners as they gathered for mass. There was a reception for Hebda following mass.
The Westonka Food Shelf serves 250 families with more than 28,000 pounds of food per month. Patrons never have to pay for the food, which is weighed out according to household size. Sixty volunteers from around the community, including 15 OLL parishioners, keep the food shelf running six days per week. The Pennywise Thrift shop accepts donations of clothing and household items and offers them at a very reduced price to families in need.