St. Peter’s Episcopal Church has dedicated parishioners who are part of the church’s Ministry to the Community in Need. This includes feeding the homeless at Outreach Dinners, making prayer shawls and baptismal blankets, donating clothes to the homeless coming to the Yale-New Haven Hospital emergency room, and donating food to the Milford Senior Center Food Bank.
St. Peter’s has been part of the Outreach Dinners for 15 years and serves the dinner in its parish hall once a month. The church is one of four local churches that take turns serving these dinners once a month.
“We get 30 to 50 people who come through the door,” said Richard Durazzo, who leads the St. Peter’s effort. “Anyone who comes is welcome.”
Durazzo has the project divided up into four teams of 12 people on each team so that each team works on an Outreach Dinner three times a year.
“It’s our way of giving back to the community,” he said. “I get a lot of joy and people are very grateful. It’s very rewarding, very gratifying to do it. I would never stop doing it.”
Linda Roti has been involved in the Prayer Shawl Ministry since its beginning 15 years ago and now leads the group composed of nine members.
She explained the original intent was to make prayer shawls which are blankets that go over shoulders to provide comfort.
“We make them for people in need inside and outside of the church as well as presents for our kids who are getting confirmed,” she said. “As we say, you wrap yourself in a shawl so you’re being wrapped in love and prayer.”
Over the years the group has expanded its efforts into making baptismal blankets for babies baptized in the church, making wool or fiber knit hats for refugees and a girls school in Afghanistan through a group called “Afghans 4 Afghans,” and making hats and scarves for merchant mariners through the Seamen’s Church in New York City.
“I just love doing it,” said Roti. “It’s the satisfaction to know we’ve been encouraging people and doing something that gives them comfort.”
The Rev. Angela Rowley, assisting minister, accepts donations of clothing for the homeless from St. Peter’s and others outside the church for her work as chaplain at Yale-New Haven Hospital’s Emergency Room.
“I keep clothes in my office at Yale-New Haven. It’s called ‘Angie’s Closet’,” she said. “It’s mainly to take care of the homeless who come looking for help.”
She accepts both under clothing and outer clothing, socks and hats.
“Sometimes they come in because they’ve had an accident or a fight and they have their clothes cut away from them. So I give them replacements,” she said. “One night in winter a man came in barefoot to get out of the cold. All I could do was put a double layer of wool socks on him since we have no shoes, and he cried. He just left the hospital with the socks.”
“St. Peter’s has been extremely generous,” she said. “I don’t think it’s anything special I’m doing. I’m just a facilitator who makes sure people get things they need.”
Every Sunday before a service parishioners come with cans and bags of food and put them in a large wicker basket by the doorway. After the service Edna Pavlowski brings the basket to the Milford Senior Center, which distributes the food to those in need aged 55 and over.
“It gives me a good feeling,” said Pavlowski, who has been involved for two years. “I volunteered because I thought it was a nice project. I wanted to help people.”