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Catholic Charities – Bethlehem House and Soup Kitchen

May 18, 2013

Virgin Islands – Tuesday, May 7

Taryn and Jared decided to enjoy a pool day in the sun since this was their last day in the islands. So Christy and I left them there, and we headed into town to get some walking in. But first we stopped by the front desk and found out they were able to upgrade us to a bigger unit for no extra charge. And we also found a little map that we were able to use as a guide on a walk through town that took us past a bunch of historic places. We walked by an old fort, old churches, government buildings and the governor’s mansion, and climbed the famous 99 steps up to Blackbeard’s castle, and saw the statues of notorious pirates, including Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean movies. It was really hot out, and we had to occasionally duck into one of the air-conditioned shops to cool off a bit. After we made our way back into town, we walked down the main street where all the warehouse shops were open. The center of town was crowded because a cruise ship was in, and the passengers were all out and about shopping. To our surprise, the vast majority of the warehouse shops were jewelry stores – literally dozens of them. And there were people in a lot of them, but it’s just hard to imagine how so many jewelry stores can sell enough merchandise to stay in business. There were only a couple souvenir type stores in the midst of all the jewelry stores. We browsed around a bit in the souvenir stores, but had no interest in the jewelry shops. My camera had some temperamental moments and quit working for a while, and even though it’s an underwater camera, I began to wonder if the water had somehow affected it.

Then we kept walking down the street to find the Catholic Charities office where I was going to make 2 donations today – their slogan is “…Lean on us when you need a friend…” It was hard to find at first – we had to go through a closed gate into a courtyard, and there didn’t seem to be anything there, but we finally went up a flight of stairs, and found the office. The Catholic Charities is made up of a number of social service programs, including the Bethlehem House Shelter and a soup kitchen, and those were the 2 programs I was going to donate to. One of the ladies went and got the Mick, the director, and we were able to talk with him for a while. The Bethlehem House shelter has 40 beds on St Thomas and 40 beds on St Croix, and the residents also get 2 hot meals a day and counseling. The soup kitchen is open Monday through Friday, and they serve about 100 people a day. In addition to food, the people are also able to get clothes if they need them, toiletries, and they can also take advantage of showers and outreach services. On our way out, we stopped for a couple pictures.

By this time, we had a lot of our walking done, so we headed back to the car and drove back to the resort. We got our stuff moved to the new unit, then headed down to the pool to read for a while. And later on all 4 of us headed over to the Frenchtown district, where we found a restaurant called Hook, Line and Sinker right on the water. the shutters were open to the night air, and we had a wonderful dinner for Taryn and Jared’s last night on the island.

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