WEST HARWICH — With some things returning to a partial sense of normalcy, the pandemic and its aftershocks are still being felt, especially by those who are in financial dire straits, homeless, in recovery and in other difficult situations. The parishioners of Holy Trinity Parish in West Harwich and the Faith Formation teens there have not forgotten those who can easily be overlooked in trying times. 

Ryan Casey gives a bag with two cold meals, both at the Street Reach Program at the First Baptist Church in Hyannis. (Photos by Barbara-Anne Foley)

Since the new school year began in September, the students have not only been learning about the faith, but living it. In October, the generous parishioners of Holy Trinity stocked their car trunks for the parish’s “Halloween Treats for our Friends in the Streets Program.” The parishioners and volunteers each opened their trunks filled with different items that people living on the streets would need: toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, hand warmers, socks, gloves, hats, scarves, homemade blankets, etc. The teens then each took reusable tote bags donated by Stop and Shop Supermarkets and went shopping trunk to trunk until they had filled more than 50 bags for their friends on the streets.

Later, in December, the teens delivered some of the bags to the women in recovery living at St. Clare’s Sober House along with bringing pizza and cupcakes to them in Hyannis, and sharing that with the women for lunch.

On January 22 the students brought 30 more of the bags to the “Street Reach” program coordinated by Marilyn Lariviere, along with a cadre of mostly volunteer students from all over the Cape who normally collect similar items along with clothes, blankets, etc., and made them a hot meal and coffee and sent them off with two brown bag cold meals to put in their back packs, one for themselves and one for a friend.

Because of COVID-19, Lariviere moved the program outside of the First Baptist Church on Main Street in Hyannis. The teens started the morning listening to a prayer service followed by volunteer students handing out some brown bag food items for their back packs and then the Holy Trinity students handed out their bags to the Friends on the Streets who attended in the cold and snow.

Brianna Wall spends time with one of the resident pooches at the House.

The kids fell in love with an elderly man named Tommy. He is a 71-year-old Vietnam 101st Airborne veteran, who is very proud to be a native Cape Codder and enjoys sharing the story that he was born in his house in Truro and not the hospital.

Tommy loves to come to the program and is well known to the organizers and as known and apparently very much loved by the student volunteers as well.

There is also outreach to St. Joseph’s Shelter in Hyannis and many of the local hotels some of the homeless stay at to help in any way possible once a month by inviting them to the “Street Reach Program” to provide them with basic necessities: food, clothing and as importantly, love.

It is very heartwarming for many to see the Holy Trinity students join many others from across the Cape on a Saturday morning to “serve others and be the Face of Christ to those in need.” 

In the Holy Trinity grades seven through ninth-grade Confirmation class the coordinators instill service through “living lessons in our community,” what service to others in need is. These turn out to be days the students won’t soon forget.

Tommy, a Cape Cod Vietnam war vet, left, chats with a friend.