Back in 2015 when the United States hosted Pope Francis’ visit to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, St. Vincent de Paul’s Eucharistic Minister, Norma Yabut felt that her experience packaging CRS Helping Hands meals at that event was redeeming. Soon after she vowed to bring the program to her parish and has been doing so every year since.
CRS Helping Hands, says Norma, sows seeds in broadening the sense of church that we already have, it allows us to be “part of something bigger.” When we pack meals we understand that we are part of our Universal church not only for the time of the event but for the lifetime of those we serve. She continues on by saying that meal packaging is of course a lot of fun, but that it also allows us to express our faith with concrete action and to do something that we know is making people’s lives better, not only for today, but for decades to come.
One of Norma’s favorite things about CRS Helping Hands is the programming behind the meals. Getting the opportunity to travel to Burkina Faso with Catholic Relief Services and, see not only where the meals go, but what the additional funds does was life affirming for her. She was overwhelmed in seeing the many different projects going on in Burkina; how Helping Hands monies have allowed an orphanage to expand their banana growing project so that it is able to fund a future. funds have helped families develop an income, how women are farming vegetables like onions to help their families and their community and so much more.
Norma is a busy lady. Beyond her work in the church, taking personal medical mission trips, she also serves as a Catholic Relief Services Parish Ambassador and has recruited to others to serve with her. Through their help putting together the yearly events is pretty easy. Norma loves how this event brings her community together in new ways, how they can integrate prayer into the event so seamlessly and how each year previous attendees share the good news and bring new people to volunteer. Seven million meals, she reflects, is an amazing impact to be a part of, in Burkina and here at home; the gift of which changes lives abroad and changes our hearts here too. It is a gift, Norma says, to share the difference we can make and to be, Helping Hands.
Interested in bringing a Helping Hands meal packaging event to your large conference? Contact us!