Well, the COVID – 19 pandemic still rages, although it seems to be slowly dying out. The numbers in Massachusetts are still declining, but until they reach zero new cases and zero deaths we cannot stop praying for those afflicted with this disease.
Its effect upon our work has been as dramatic as other businesses and ministries. In my last editorial, I related how we were planning to respond, keeping all of us here safe and maintaining payroll, while we awaited aid via the Payroll Protection Program. It was a very trying time, because in March and April some were panicking, others were not giving a damn, and still others had no clue as to what the problem was.
We got lucky in our attempt to get a PPP loan. Kathy and Lois, along with our personnel advisors waded through the quagmire of federal bureaucracy that seemed to change almost daily while trying to put together a correct application. If it wasn’t for an advisor from the Small Business Administration’s SCORE program (Senior Corp of Retired Executives) who not only told us exactly what to do, but also provided names and telephone numbers of bank personnel that would help us secure our PPP loan, we would have completely missed this opportunity. I can tell you that we would be facing a much more drastic situation than the one we are facing now.
It appears that we will be somewhere between $30,000 to $40,000 short on our budget for the remainder of this year, and we will have used up all of our rainy day monies. We will be starting next year with the same amount of money we had when we started forty years ago, zero!
But as I have told you many times before, “This is a faith ministry, He gives us exactly what we need when we need it, and not a second before or a second after.” With this in mind, we are pressing forward, ever hopeful with a number of initiatives to help speed up our recovery.
We are working to increase the number of people coming into the LittleStore by advertising in the weekly newspaper Vocero as well as sending out biweekly store flyers via Facebook and emailing them to over 2,000 LittleStore customers.
We will open up our loyalty program to all customers. All customers will receive a 10% discount when they present their loyalty cards. Customers who are DTA clients will receive a 30% discount when they present their loyalty cards.
We are continuing our color of the month discount for any item in the store over three months.
We have extended our store hours on Thursday and Friday from 4:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M.
We are going to launch our annual Sustainer Drive. This year we are introducing “The Blessed Beggar” icon as a way of making sure everyone understands that we are supported only by what alms we can get by begging.
We will be reaching out to everyone to help in some form or another.
To those who are Sustainers we will be asking if they would be willing to reach out to their family and friends to become Sustainers.
To those who come and volunteer their time for the many different programs and those who receive StreetLights we will be asking if they can join us as a Sustainer.
To those who we have interacted with in some way or another, we will send out the appeal via email and U.S. postal mail, as well as calling them to see if they would be willing to become a sustainer.
We do understand that times are difficult, many are mourning the loss of loved ones due to COVID – 19 and many more have not been able to properly bury their dead. We grieve with you and you are in our prayers.
We are sending out flyers on our Day of Prayerful Work and Fill-A-Truck programs to every parish in the Worcester Diocese. Our hope is that we will be able to convince the parish youth minister and the pastor that these two programs are a viable way for parish youth to experience “love in action” and it will help reduce our cash shortfall.
On the brighter side we have had some very good news on the housing front. Saint Stephen Housing Initiative is in line for another sizable donation to help fund the purchase of a second house for refugees, immigrants and asylees in the Worcester area. We hope to get this project started by the end of the year.
We have two new volunteers that have joined us for one day a week. Steve Shields is helping out with our computer systems and Brenda Seymour will be working with families in the Saint Stephen Housing Initiative program. We thank them for stepping out from their busy personal lives to help with our works of mercy. Please add them to your prayer list.