Every Saturday morning the parking lot at Saint Katharine Drexel Catholic Church transforms into an open-air market. The Market of Love was started by members of the Ministry of St. Vincent de Paul to provide physical and spiritual nourishment to neighbors in need.
According to parishioner Gabriel Gutierrez, there are about 3,000 families in Weston living below the poverty line. “Market of Love is a weekly Saturday morning program for people in transition to have fresh food such as fruits, vegetables and dairy products. By helping with part of the food, we help bring peace and hope to homes that are experiencing a temporary situation.”
Although originally started to help members of the Weston community suffering financial hardships, Gutierrez says they do not turn anyone away, serving an average of 600 families per month. “Market of Love was for people who live in Weston initially, but we have found that they come from nearby communities as well. We do not deny help to anyone. We always welcome them since making the decision to access these aids is difficult for people since they must accept a level of failure in their lives. We support them to get ahead; we do not judge them.”
Market of Love is run by donations. Church parishioners donate money which is used to buy fresh fruits and vegetables from produce wholesalers in Miami. In addition, local owners of food companies donate products. Publix donates breads and cakes to another church ministry called Los Caballeros de Colon (Knights of Columbus).
To further help families get back on their feet, St. Vincent de Paul provides financial support by helping pay FPL or water bills or part of the recipient’s rent. During home visits, volunteers provide spiritual accompaniment and practical assistance to help recipients find the strength to take control of their lives again.
Gutierrez says the church also offers job support. “Recipients can access a billboard on which we post job listings, they are also invited to attend Opportunity. It is another St. Katharine Drexel Parish Ministry. Every Tuesday from 8-10pm talks and guidance are given to the job search.”
While the recipients of these acts of charity certainly benefit from these services, Gutierrez says members of his ministry benefit as well. “Helping people in Weston and nearby communities is helping the neighbor who is hungry and thirsty, who at some point can be any of us. Giving love and delivering part of what each of us gives is receiving love and blessings.”
To learn more about Market of Love and other programs by the Ministry of St. Vincent de Paul email email@example.com or call 754-702-7837.