When the doors to the Disch-DeClouet Social Service Center in New Iberia open again Tuesday, those who volunteer there know from past experiences the importance of giving back to the community.
John Indest has been the executive director of the Disch-DeClouet Social Service Center for under a year. He said the center is primarily run by volunteers who want to lend a helping hand in New Iberia.
The center has been closed since March 16 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but will reopen on Tuesday with plans to adjust the hours of operations. The doors will be open on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 8:30 a.m.
Because of Memorial Day, the center is closed Monday, which is why the first day of the center’s return is Tuesday.
Located at 432 Bank Ave., the center would, in the past, service 15 clients in the morning and 15 in the afternoon, but due to safety protocols, Indest and other volunteers will now only serve 20 clients each of those mornings.
“We feel as though we have altered the procedures that will take place while helping the clients so that there will be minimal contact with the clients and our volunteers to keep everybody safe,” Indest said.
As executive director, Indest is in charge of day-to-day functions of the center, ensuring bills are paid, as well as seeing to an adequate supply of food and clothing.
Indest’s past experiences are helping now.
As a former RN, Indest was the president and chief’s operations officer at the LHC in Lafayette and is known as one of the founders of the company.
Then and now, Indest has always enjoyed helping those who are in need.
“I have considered myself blessed all these years by the work I did at LHC, so when I retired I said I need to return some of those blessings that I was given to helping out at the center,” Indest said.
After seven years of volunteering, Indest was asked to take over as the Disch-DeClouet director, a role he never envisioned taking but one he appreciates today.
“I have a lot of help, so I am servicing in that capacity now,” Indest said.
Indest said he still finds joy in helping out others as it’s a small gesture that can go a long way.
“I think many people in our community are generous with their treasures but not everyone can be put in the position to be generous with their time,” Indest said. “And I think that is one of the more valuable things a person can offer is their time.”
44 years of giving
For more than 44 years, the Disch-DeClouet Social Service Center has provided monetary assistance with utility bills, rent, medical bills, and working with the homeless shelter. Indest and the center also provide emergency housing for the homeless.
Because of a large food distribution held at the center last week, which saw 26 tons of food distributed, Indest said that no food or clothing will be given out at this time.
Indest said the center will not reopen its clothing department until they feel they have a good handle on taking care of the clients and helping with their financial needs.
“After we feel like we can do that, then we are going to reopen our clothing department,” Indest said. “We are also trying to rebuild our food supply because we completely exhausted our food reserves when we had the drive, so we are in the process of building that also.”
A community effort
Indest said he knows that Disch-DeClouet is a vital part of New Iberia. He believes those who help now help make a difference for tomorrow.
“I think any community is measured by not only some of the great activities that go on within the community, but I think it is measured by how you treat most people who are in need,” Indest said. “For 44 years, the social service center has been focused on meeting the needs of the needy in Iberia Parish.”