Taking it to the Streets: Angels in Disguise

Homeless in New York

Volunteers Joe and Mary Tondo 

At first glance, Joe and Mary Tondo  look like your average retired married couple.

But as St. Vincent de Paul Society volunteers (known as “Vincentians”) from St. Joseph Parish in Avon Lake, Ohio, they’re regarded by many as nothing less than angels in disguise.

The Tondos have taken their works of charity to the streets in order to reach out to their community’s most forgotten citizens.

Each week, the Tondos seek out the homeless in Lorain city parks and provide them with food and clothing, many times at their own personal expense.

One year, Mary even lovingly crocheted 69 woolen blankets and 50 woolen caps with yarn she purchased in order to give the homeless a semblance of warmth during the cold weather.

If that were not enough, she and her husband provide weekly meals to the poor at city parks and at Lorain Catholic Charities. During one month alone, they prepared 171 meals.

The Tondos started their ministry in gratitude after Joe’s successful open heart surgery a few years earlier.

They believe that it’s not enough just to bring individuals food and clothing, but to do so with a heartfelt smile and a desire to get to know them.

“We feel like it’s sort of a mission from God,” said Mary.

“These people have no expectations of living and truly think their journey is just to survive. They have nothing, and yet they tell us, ‘If you need help with anything, just let us know.’”

“We’re very passionate that they deserve more than what they have,” added Joe.

Volunteers Joe & Mary Tondo (left) were honored for their ministry to the homeless in Lorain County, Ohio

Volunteers Joe & Mary Tondo (left) were honored by St. Vincent de Paul Society for their ministry to the homeless in Lorain County, Ohio