Franciscan Charities got its start in 2004 as a response to a call for help. A handful of Newark’s most needy had gathered in the basement of St. Ann’s, a nearly-abandoned church in the Central Ward. They were poor and hungry.
A few volunteers showed up with hot soup and sincere intentions that first day and served 12 people. They had little access to running water, no kitchen to speak of, frequent power outages and plenty of doubts. Gang members milled around the entrance. The police told the volunteers to go home, but under the guidance of Brother Paul Miller they kept returning. Soon 12 became 20 and then 200. In time, volunteers rebuilt the kitchen, the church reopened, gangs moved on and Franciscan Charities reclaimed a small piece of community.
Since then Franciscan Charities has worked with more than a thousand volunteers to help our neighbors in Newark -- serving over a million meals, distributing more than 20 thousand coats, hats, gloves, scarves hats, and toys, supplying school supplies and backpacks to more than a thousand Newark students, providing countless packs of personal hygiene products and diapers, and resolving thousands of social service and welfare issues.