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Albany sisters help feed the dear neighbor during COVID pandemic

 Albany Province

Sister Betsy Van Deusen leads Catholic Charities efforts

Sister Betsy Van Deusen (center with microphone) leading a group at the Regional Food Bank.

Sister Betsy Van Deusen has been serving with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany for nine years as Director of Community Partnerships. Her current position is as it sounds, a broad position including volunteers, groups, development, outreach, and “all other duties as assigned.” When COVID hit with a vengeance, the once-a-month food distribution was ramped up to 10-15 times a month from April 2020 to the present. This necessitated that more of Sister Betsy’s time be spent, literally, out on parking lots, leading extraordinarily dedicated and hard-working volunteers to pack tons (2,149 tons or 4,299,137 lbs.) of food to be distributed in communities far and wide. To date, Catholic Charities has held 185 food distributions in ten of the 14 counties of the diocese, serving more than 100,000 households and 320,000 people. 

There does not appear to be an end in sight so keep your eye out for Sister Betsy to be all bundled up throughout the winter! Volunteers are always needed, and you can sign up online.

Sister Betsy was recently awarded a Moral Fusion Leadership award from the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State. They recognized five people/groups with this award at the beginning of November. This award highlights leaders from across New York State “who are making tremendous contributions to the struggle for economic, racial and social justice in New York.”

Read more about the Moral Fusion Leadership Awards 2021

I’ve worked with organizers since I was a teenager all over the country. I’ve worked with great ones, good ones, and ones that we should be merciful to, and Sister Betsy is one of the great ones.

Mark Emanation, Director of the Capital District Area Labor Federation

Sisters help their neighbors access food

Sister Roberta Rita Graham and Sister Paul Kathryn Barno have partnered with Sister Betsy during the Pandemic to further their ministry in serving the community.

Paul Kathryn Barno, CSJ and Roberta Rita Graham, CSJ

Two years ago when we retired from 51 years of teaching, we began cooking meals for those in our neighborhood who were caregivers to homebound and bedridden family members. When COVID spread faster, we decided that people wouldn’t necessarily like food from others’ homes. In conversation, we agreed they could call us if they needed anything, and they do. Last year we found four families in need (rural poor with no transportation to food banks), so it has been our pleasure to do their shopping and deliveries throughout the week. We also try to help two homeless people in Troy when we can.

At times, Sister Betsy VanDeusen calls us when she has a food drop near us in Troy, and we are able to take advantage of the offerings of food in the larger ministry she coordinates through Catholic Charities. Sometimes we wait in food bank lines for the families, and other times we try to live a little simpler and use our budgets for paper goods because food stamps do not provide, toilet paper, paper towels, toothpaste, laundry soap or shampoo.

We have been so fortunate to have our friends make quilts for these families, adding a bit of color, warmth and love to their lives. We are also grateful to our sisters at the Provincial House, who have donated in many ways to this ministry throughout the pandemic.”


“We are grateful to fill each tomorrow with moments that matter!”

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