A recent guest to our Food Pantry left us a short but meaningful review on Google: “Always here for you.”
We hope that every guest leaves knowing that Community Action House is here for them, especially in the face of unprecedented demand for our food programs. This July, we served 18,368 meals in the Food Pantry. The trend over the past 3 months has been a dramatic increase compared to recent years. May was the busiest month since last January. Then, June exceeded May, and July’s numbers are higher still: 127% increase in the number of meals provided, year over year.
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be challenging our community to support in new and broadened ways. It is only with your help that we’ll be able to keep our promise, to always be here for our community. The opportunity to have your $10 donation become $60 of food returns, thanks to an anonymous matching donor and Meijer Simply Give - which you can do online right now and anytime before September 14th.
You’ll also find updates from the front lines to celebrate and share below. We’re eager to uplift the stories of our guests who are so often lacking a voice to advocate. These lived experiences are essential to the ongoing conversation in our community about how to bridge gaps in opportunity, food security, and the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors.
Thank you for staying in touch and up to date with our efforts. Your feedback drives our efforts - so please do not hesitate to reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org | (616) 392-2368 ext. 129.
In August, we celebrated the 250th shower provided by Refresh: Hygiene & Hope. That’s 250 times that our community was able to meet a basic need to build confidence, support health, and inspire hope. In addition, 67 haircuts have been provided at no cost to guests, and countless connections have been made to local resources, strengthening relationships - all with the goal of providing a safe, welcoming place where people experiencing homelessness can find respite, support, and pathways to stable housing.
As demand has increased and word has spread, we’re set to open a second day of services, and need your help to do so. A volunteer training will be held on Friday, August 30, 2019 at 9 AM – 11 AM at First United Methodist Church for new volunteers willing to spend a few hours each week ensuring that everyone in our community has access to showers, hygiene, and connections to housing resources. Hopeful people needed! Learn more about the training on our Facebook page, and contact LuAnne Stanley Hook, Director of Community Involvement at FUMC to register: email@example.com | 616-396-5205, ext. 108.
After nearly three years on waitlists for access to housing, Sue* finally got the call she was waiting for: an available unit was that was safe, affordable, and the perfect fit for her and her two boys. Getting there wasn’t easy. “Holland is one of the hardest places to move into - especially when moving into something in the low income side of things.” She had just a few days to put together a security deposit on short notice, leaving her without enough to cover the storage unit she’d been relying on. Without a car or anyone in her network that were willing or able to help, she faced finally achieving housing, but losing access to her family’s belongings.
We’re honored that Sue chose to share her needs with the Community Action House staff she’d gotten to know at the Community Kitchen. When we last connected, she shared that “we have something that’s our again.” Read more about how she got there, and the part we were able to play in her journey to a more hopeful, stable future. → Read More
Food or Medicine?
Earlier, we shared that the food pantry has provided more than double the meals from a year ago - a total of 18,368 meals in July. In addition, nearly 10,000 additional meals were served through the Community Kitchen and Monthly Food Distribution. Every meal helps people lead healthier lives and move forward on paths to overcome their challenges.
These meals help guests like Laura*, whose medicine costs over $200 a month. She’s had to choose between having enough food to eat, or buying the medicine essential to managing her ongoing health needs - a lose/lose choice. She learned about food and hunger resources available in our food pantry through a referral from Ottawa County’s Pathways to Better Health program, and was able to take advantage of the fresh produce and selection of items balanced across food groups. Having enough healthy food to eat supports her overall well-being and is part of her plan of care, in support of positive health outcomes. Having both food and medicine is a relief.
Laura’s reality is not unique. Food pantry guests often cite their medical needs as causes of food and financial insecurity. We firmly believe no one should have to choose between medical care and having enough to eat, especially when recognizing that the two are so closely linked.
Laura’s reality is our reality, and the reality of our community. While seeking systems-wide forward movement for our most vulnerable neighbors, our plan of action in the present is to meet the needs we serve best: hunger, financial mobility, connection, and community. We’re strengthening collaborations with local resource providers, and constantly driving excellence to enhance the dignity and respect we show our guests. Expanding our hours and days served, expanding the number of visits that guests have each year, and doing everything a little bit better every day - all mean that we’re earning the trust of our neighbors with every meal provided.
*Please note that certain details, including names, have been altered and/or omitted to respect the privacy of our guests.
Friday, August 30th • 345 West 14th Street, Holland, MI 49423
We're excited to host a Mini Resource Fair, featuring the Chemical Bank Mobile Empowerment Center alongside our August Monthly Food Distribution. In addition to free professional counseling and information, numerous additional local community partners will be on hand to share resources for families and individuals. The Mini-Resource Fair is a great opportunity to connect with local resource connections for housing, employment, financial counseling, and family services. →Learn more
Saturday, September 14 • 9:30 am to 3 pm • Macatawa Resource Center
If you or someone you know are considering a home purchase, attending this free weekend workshop can help with information from the experts! In addition to helping to qualify for a MSHDA mortgage, expect in-depth coverage of the home purchase process presented by local housing professionals. Presented at no cost for Allegan and Ottawa County residents. →Learn more and Register
Friday, September 6th • 11:45 am to 1 pm • Community Kitchen
Join us for a light lunch to learn more about our community and the work of Community Action House. You’ll hear about community trends, changing needs and connect with ways to join efforts to help. RSVP's appreciated! →Learn more and RSVP
Fall 4-week Workshop: September 18th, 25th and October 2nd, 9th
Mini 2-week Workshop: October 9th and November 13th
We're pleased to present Financial Future Workshop opportunities in two convenient formats this fall. This workshop features expert-led sessions with the questions, plans, information, and activities designed to help participants find their financial footing. Both workshops are offered at no cost to Allegan and Ottawa County residents. →Learn more and Register
Tuesday, October 8th • Doors Open 6pm • Warehouse 6
Please join us for our annual Appreciation Banquet on October 8, as we celebrate thousands of hours of service in our community and the impact of our all those who give of their time! We're looking forward to honoring your work to support and sustain our work all throughout the year! →Learn more and Register
Whether its by email, on the phone, or over coffee, we're always grateful to hear from you. The thoughts of our community - your ideas - are critical to effectively serving our neighbors. Get in touch by phone at (616) 392-2368 ext. 109 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org