Building deficiencies force closure of Visitation Relief Center
Visitation Relief Center, the community outreach agency in Brick that got its start in response to Superstorm Sandy, has closed its doors.
Father Edward Blanchett, pastor in Visitation Parish, Brick, under whose auspices the agency operates, said the center closed the week of Oct. 10 due to building deficiencies.
In a statement he read at Masses Oct. 15 and 16, Father Blanchett said, “I must announce with deep sadness that operations at the Visitation Relief Center must cease immediately. This is effective until further notice and may be permanent. Please pray for those impacted by this development, and pray for Visitation Parish.”
Visitation Relief Center was created to provide relief assistance in the wake of the hurricane-turned-superstorm that devastated the Jersey Shore four years ago this month. Over the years, VRC grew into meeting the needs of thousands of families and individuals in the community through services such as a food pantry and outreach and advocacy programs, and had established partnerships with nonprofit, business and faith-based organizations to help those in need.
“During that time, the VRC in cooperation with Catholic Charities helped hundreds of families in rebuilding efforts, provided advice in securing government aid and offered material and spiritual support to lives devastated by the storm,” Father Blanchett said. “Visitation parishioners and many local businesses and individuals, seeing the good being done by the center, generously provided their time, talent and treasure to help.”
Since mid-2015, one of the center’s main goals had been to recruit a new generation of volunteers in an effort to connect young people to Christ, he said.
“I believe that, in addition to its aid to the needy, the VRC has been a vitally needed way to bring and keep our young people active in their faith in a way that resonated with them,” he said. “Of course, we will continue to discern and investigate ways to continue this necessary evangelization.”
In an effort to ensure current clients continue to get the help they need, a limited staff is overseeing the center’s demobilization efforts, including providing the needy referrals to other services. As donations to the center have been suspended, those wanting to help the community can still do so through the parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Society conference.
“Thanks to the efforts of its director and staff, the VRC made great progress toward achieving this goal and becoming a self-sustaining agency,” Father Blanchett said. “[It] has my heartfelt thanks.”