History of The People's Place
In 1972, the Mount St. Alphonsus Redemptorist Priests and Brothers started a “mission”, located in a rental storefront at 105 Abeel Street, as an outreach program to disadvantaged families and children in the Rondout area of Kingston. The mission’s initial purpose was to help children with educational disabilities. Early offerings at People’s Place included classes in reading and mathematics, which were taught by a volunteer teacher from the Kingston High School, to help prepare students for their GED diplomas. Children between the ages of 4 and 14 were offered arts, crafts, bible study and field trips. The needs of the community quickly indicated that more services in the way of food and clothing were needed.
To meet these growing needs, the thrift store and food pantry were created. The seminary students worked with local agencies and distributed food baskets to families in need at Thanksgiving. At Christmas and Easter, parties were held for the children and families. The People’s Place “mission” always had an emergency supply of food and clothing available to be sold or given away. In 1977, in cooperation with Ulster County Social Services, the “food closet” began, which now is known as People’s Place Food Pantry. At this time they were serving 75–85 families per year.
Volunteers became more involved in 1981 to help the Mount St. Alphonsus Redemptorist Priests and Brothers with their mission. In 1985, the Priests and Brothers were transferred to Washington DC and the management of People’s Place was transferred to 25 volunteers. As buildings were sold, the mission moved several times within the City of Kingston, and finally in 2006, rented a space at 17 St. James Street. People’s Place is now run by an Executive Director, an eighteen member volunteer Board of Directors, two part time employees and over 80 volunteers.
Today People’s Place is the largest food pantry in Ulster County. In 2014 768 families were served at Thanksgiving, over 1,250 children were given holiday gifts, and the food pantry provided over 190,000 meals. In August of 2015 we were able to purchase the St. James St. building that we had rented for nearly 10 years. Our 43 years of service to our community has firmly established us as a “go to” agency in improving lives of those most in need.