2016 Annual Report for Everyday Basics Essentials Pantry: an outreach ministry of the Church at 209
Everyday Basics Essentials Pantry is beginning its eighth year of operations. In 2009, this ministry served on average 25 people at each opening. In 2016, a total of 5,819 people received the benefits of this ministry. We began 2016 serving just under 200 people with each opening and by this fall we were averaging just over 300, with one peak Saturday reaching 407. This is approximately a 68% increase over 2015.
Sustainability of this ministry has always been a concern for the Vestry and volunteers. St. Mark’s partnership with the Warming Center increased the awareness of this ministry and more guests. As awareness of the program grew, so did our donations of both supplies and money. For the second year in a row, we were the beneficiary of the Maine Legislative and Research Law Library’s holiday giving. We received boxes of essential items and money to support the ministry. In addition, other donors have given generously to ensure sustainability of the ministry. I believe that the more we purposed to give and meet the growing demand, the more people stepped up to support this work. A visible symbol of God at work in a ministry that turns no one away.
As the local community of refugees, Iraqis, Afghanis, and Syrians grows, we see increased families turning up needing assistance as they begin new lives in the Greater Augusta area. The refugee community accounts for approximately 60% of the people we serve in this ministry. Over the past year, members of the refugee community have begun to join in volunteering at the pantry and relationships are being formed. We are learning more about the different cultures as they learn about our culture.
Volunteers are the backbone of this ministry, donating almost 700 hours of time and talent to making everything work – filling supplies, helping people, and being a presence in a world that often seems willing to look through the marginalized rather than face the reality of their circumstances. The creativity of Liz Burgess resulted in a connection with Jet.com that allows us to purchase diapers online and even raise matching funds for these purchases. Donate online toward the purchase of high quality / low cost diapers. Liz also works to create a sustained awareness of the volunteer needs of the organization. Nancy Finnegan works diligently to orchestrate the work of the volunteers and keep things moving forward during our hours of operation. To all the volunteers who engage in this ministry – THANK YOU!!!!
In 2017, we are exploring how to move all our outreach ministries under an umbrella that will hopefully qualify for status as a United Way eligible agency. There will be much more about this throughout the year.
Please hold this ministry and its volunteers in your prayers as they continue to seek the ways that God is calling us to serve in the Greater Augusta area.