In just over a month we will start our Holiday preparations. Halloween will be over, Thanksgiving planning will begin and while that's happening, Christmas carols will already be playing in the mall, on the car radio and in our supermarkets.
The carols will be playing in the three places our clients usually don't have the opportunity to listen to them. They don't shop at the mall, but at dollar and thrift stores. They use public transportation to get to these places. Their supermarket is the Francis House Food Pantry and we are not equiped with an overhead musak system.
The holidays are are a joyous time to celebrate and be thankful for what we have and who we love. Our clients....they celebrate too. They celebrate another year of living with the HIV virus. They celebrate that they have fought off death for another year. They celebrate that they too are thankful for what they have and who they love. They celebrate. Everyday.
Most of us don't think twice about buying our turkey and all the accoutrements that go with our meal. Our food pantry is limited and while we always have canned pumpking and cranberry sauce from those that bought too much the year before, the meal would be lacking with just those two items.
Over the last few years your generosity has helped Francis House provide the other stuff for those meals. Yes, the other stuff. The main stuff. Turkey, gravy, fresh vegetables and more. We could not have done it without you. I promise you, the happiness in the smiles as our clients acccess a full pantry is something that stays with me. Pure joy is noticable....and contagious.
We thank you for your donations and look forward to a feast fit for those who have something to celebrate.
Many clients come to Francis House for different servcies. Some come for the support groups, some for socialization, some for the meals we cook - but most every client that participates uses the food pantry.
The food pantry, for some, was the initial draw to Francis House. Once inside receiving their emergency food box - they learned how to access the pantry weekly, even daily and started to participate in services. That was the case for one such client! He was referred for for a food box from another agency and became a participating client. After a few months, he began to help out around the building. He would take out the trash, mop the floors, help clean the kitchen after lunch. He asked if he could help cook the meals. We learned about his past experiences as a dessert chef and a line cook. He began coming in 5 days a week and is now a full time volunteer cook for our facility.
His drug use diminished and he reports no use in over 6 months. He states that he feels like he has purpose again. He makes amazing food to assist us in providing over 6,000 meals each year.
All... because of our food pantry.
In 2007, when we started thinking about startinga food pantry, we were concerned. Concerned that the space we had was too small to feed the few clients that we had. Concerned we wouldn't have the manpower or money to keep it stocked. No matter the concerns, we forged ahead with a donation from the USPS Letter Carrier's Drive. We recieved 10,000 pound of food. With smiles on our faces, we sorted, stocked, organized and opened our pantry with the idea that this food would get us through until we could figure out how to raise enough money to keep it stocked.
Our idea was wrong. 10,000 pounds of food lasted a mere three weeks. The need for food was more than we imagined. It outweighed our supply. Then, a miracle donor came to us out of the blue and offered to keep our pantry stocked! $1,000 each month was more than enough to keep our clients fed! Then... our economy took a hit as well as our miracle donor and their contribution was decreased to $500 each month. Clients began to flood in for services. Not just food, but support, housing, case management. Our small client base grew. Our lunch program went from feeding 10 people a day to feeding 50 people a day. 10 people using our pantry daily grew to 30 and $500 is just not enough to keep it stocked.
We shop at our local Feeding America Food Bank in order to maximize the dollars we spend. We acquire hygiene items from the local dollar store to keep costs down. Through this past year, we have distributed a retail value over $100,000 worth of food and hygiene items. We are proud of our little pantry that could and does keep on giving. Global Giving has enabled us to subsidize our monthly allotment and increase the amount of food we can stock.
We thank you for choosing us to donate your hard earned money to. We only wish you could meet the people that you have fed and see the smiles for yourself.