The St. Joseph’s College Dean’s Service Circle and Staff Service Circle collected donations this holiday season for Mercy Center Ministries — a community-based, nonprofit organization that shelters homeless female teenagers, pregnant teenagers and young parenting mothers. The Service Circle held a “Mother/Baby Shower” in the SJC Long Island auditorium on Friday, Dec. 16, to present Mercy Center Ministries with contributions from the College community.
The SJC Service Circle is a volunteer organization of students servicing the College and local community. The group expanded their charity efforts to the staff of the College and gathered items such as diapers, deodorant, razors, toothbrushes, loofahs and cleaning supplies.
At the event, Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs S. Karen Donohue, C.S.J., welcomed Mercy Center Ministries’ Executive Director Briana Taylor, Associate Director Melissa Austin and Blue Point Shelter Program Director Andrea Mills.
We’re doing for you [Mercy Center Ministries] what we would love to do for everyone in the neighborhood. We do it for you because we know that you need the help, ”S. Karen Donohue, C.S.J., said.
Mercy Center Ministries opened its doors on Nov. 1, 1983, in Patchogue. They relocated to Blue Point in 1987 as a residence for young pregnant and/or parenting women ages 16-21, and two years later expanded into Sayville to shelter women 18-23. Because New York State has a mandate to provide housing for our homeless, the Department of Social Services and the Suffolk County Youth Bureau fund the ministry. Mercy also frequently conducts fundraisers, writes grants and accepts donations to help keep funds up.
We [Mercy Center Ministries] provide a lot of structure, support, boundaries, safety and healing.” — Briana Taylor, executive director of Mercy Ministries
Mercy Center Ministries has a lot of expectations for their residents. All residents are required to re-enroll in school or a vocational program and maintain a job. In addition, Mercy provides on-site counseling, case management, childcare, educational workshops and recreational activities. These young women are taught independent living skills, so they know how to do everything for themselves — nothing is done for them. The girls are also required to complete daily chores and cook meals for the house.
On behalf of Mercy Center Ministries, Taylor thanked the College for the generous donations and assured they would be put to good use.
If you would like to donate to Mercy Center Ministries, you can find a full “holiday wish list” on their website at mercycenterministries.org.