The developing Savannah Region supports several major works, chief among them is the Social Apostolate of Savannah, a Catholic Charities Agency in the Diocese of Savannah. The Social Apostolate’s mission is to care for and empower the poor, homeless, disabled and ‘at risk’ people in the Savannah area in witness to the biblical values of charity and justice. Last year, members, candidates in formation and volunteers of the Order provided 1,100 hours of volunteer service to the agency, including preparation of hot meals every Wednesday, and operating the shower program and crisis management on other weekdays.
Christmas Blessing Program
Members and volunteers of the Order increased their ranks by 50 more volunteers on December 19 to help the Social Apostolate execute their first Christmas Blessings Program in collaboration with the St. Martin de Porres Society. The food and toy drive supported over 200 client families of the Social Apostolate by providing 20 pounds of food and Christmas presents for their children in a ‘drive by’ distribution to maintain the social distance standards the County requires. Theresa Pottratz, DM, coordinated the volunteers for the event which included several members of our Diocesan clergy who also handed out food and toys or directed traffic at the Christmas Blessing program. Our newly installed Bishop Stephen D. Parkes, D.D., and Very Reverend Daniel Firmin, JCL the Vicar General of the Diocese participated in greeting the clients and loading the cars.
Toiletries for the Homeless
The Savannah Region has created a drop box on the front porch of one of its members so that area residents from an island community of over 8,000 residents can donate individual personal care items for the homeless. One of the things that people living on the streets or in homeless camps do not have access to are supplies for personal hygiene. Donated item, including soap, shampoo, lotions, razor’s, toothbrush, toothpaste, body wipes and toilet paper, are taken weekly to the Social Apostolate for case managers to use in their hygiene bags which are distributed regularly to the homeless clients in the camps.
Skidaway Island Urban Farmers Nourish the Homeless
Skidaway Island’s urban farmers are working with members and volunteers of the Order to supply fresh produce from the Skidaway Island Community Farm plots for the clients at the Social Apostolate. The 2 acre community farm has 200 10X20 plots and 20 raised beds. Produce beyond what the individual farmer can use is picked up each Monday by members and volunteers of the Order and used in the Social Apostolate’s soup kitchen feeding the homeless, and the pantry which provides free groceries to over 400 clients with food insecurity. The homeless of Savannah are enjoying the ability to have fresh, locally grown produce incorporated into their meals, and experimenting with new foods, like bok choy.
Savannah Care Center Virtual Baby Showers
The members of the Region are supporting Virtual Baby Showers sponsored by the Savannah Care Center, a life affirming pregnancy resource in Savannah. As women utilizing the services of the Savannah Care Center near delivery, the Center staff throw a baby shower to provide the new mother with the baby care items, such as strollers, car seats, diapers, bottles, and baby clothes to assure that mother and baby get off to a good start. Members and volunteers of the Order are contacted to purchase and ship critical baby care items directly to the Savannah Care Center where staff throw the soon-to-be mother a baby shower close to her due date.
SAVANNAH REGION BOOK CLUB
In 2021, the Region is launching its book club to provide a forum for members and volunteers to spend time together discussing books related to the works that the Region is undertaking. The books that have been identified provide insight into prison ministry, end of life issues and homelessness and include the following: The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, by Wes Moore; The Power and the Glory, by Graham Greene; Perfectly Human, by Dr. Joe Dutkowsky, KM.; After the Diagnosis, a Guide for Living the Transformative Power of Love, Reverend Thomas F Lynch, the Diocese of Bridgeport and Barbara Mariconda; From the Shadows; Reflections from a Street Doctor, by Jim O'Connell, MD; and Forty Weeks, Letters from Prison. William M. Watson, SJ. Our first meeting will be in March via Zoom and we look forward to the days when we will be able to meet face-to-face.
Savannah is a developing Region for the Federal Association. With the blessing of the Bishop, efforts began in the Fall of 2018 to educate the Catholic Community in the Diocese of Savannah about the Order of Malta. In March 2019, two individuals were accepted into the Class of 2020 and have successfully completed formation and are awaiting Investiture. Applications for the Class of 2022 are in process. The Savannah group is continuing to educate the Savannah Deanery, through various programs including formal presentations to the Diocese’s Vocation Committee. This effort has attracted 16 volunteers to participate in the works of the Order. The Savannah Developing Region is led by Marguerite D. Baxter, DM, who recently relocated to Savannah from the Northern Virginia Region.
Our monthly Mass is on the 3rd Wednesday of the month at 5:30 pm at St. James the Less Parish. Fellowship follows with dinner, as permitted with dining regulations established by the Mayor and County Commission considering the pandemic.