The Community Resource Center is dedicated to helping low-income families and individuals through its food rescue, baby pantry, job center, day center and emergency financial services. Giant Food has supported this nonprofit organization through its Community Bag Program.
Tell us about Community Resource Center.
I love our mission because it starts out with the words, “With dignity and respect.” The Community Resource Center (CRC) helps people move to the next step in their journey towards self-sufficiency. If we can relieve food insecurity, people can get up, go to work, feed their children, go to school and move on to all those everyday things. It’s a basic level need that, with your help, we’re meeting. The CRC was founded in 2011, so we’ve been around for a long time.
If we can relieve food insecurity, people can get up, go to work, feed their children, go to school, and move on to all those everyday things. It’s a basic level need that, with your help, we’re meeting.
What services do you provide to the community?
At the Community Resource Center, we provide our food rescue service, baby supplies, our job center, and emergency financial services. This year, we’ve helped eight people move from homelessness, such as living in their car or an unstable living situation, into their own place. From there, they can keep taking advantage of the food rescue so they can pay their rent.
What sets Community Resource Center apart from other organizations in your community?
We are open five days a week, and people experiencing homelessness can come in from April until mid-December to take a shower, do laundry, and go to the food rescue. What sets us apart is our longevity and people knowing that we’re here.
We are open five days a week, and the homeless can come in from April until mid-December to take a shower, do laundry, and go to the food rescue.
A lot of what we do is provide shelf-stable foods with pop tops, but it’s a little bit of everything. For example, we recently got this crazy donation of several thousand pounds of cheese. I had no idea what we would do with it when it came off the truck, but our food rescue lead does not turn anything down. God bless these volunteers. They took these big wheels of cheese and giant knives to cut them into slices and package them. They were expensive cheeses our clients normally couldn’t afford, so they just loved it.
Tell us a story that illustrates the good work of your organization.
We have volunteers who have been here for years. One volunteer was at the food rescue when two older women came up. The two older women kept apologizing, saying, “I’m so sorry for bothering you. I’m so sorry we’re here.” And he said, “You don’t have to apologize.” She told him that up until a year ago, their social security allowed them to take care of themselves. But since everything became much more expensive, they couldn’t afford food anymore. As she explained, she started to cry. The volunteer said, “Would you like a hug?” He’s this bear of a guy, and he hugged them. So, they got a big hug, and that’s pretty typical of what happens here. If it’s your first time, you are welcome. If it’s your 55th time, we know you and are already waving at you. Our clients truly become people that we embrace.
What is your most outstanding achievement or contribution to the community?
Our Safe Haven winter program is our most outstanding contribution to the community because while there are shelters for the evenings, it’s still very cold during the day. From mid-December to the end of March, we have a day shelter for homeless people, where they get meals, showers, laundry, and job help. We also connect them with other social, mental, and basic health services. For example, if somebody has a cut that’s not healing, we work with other partners like Nurse Neighbors.
On average, fifteen clients a day benefit from Safe Haven, which is open seven days a week for sixteen weeks. We receive around 1,680 client visits for the sixteen-week program. These clients also get home-cooked meals thanks to our seven partner organizations that cook daily lunches. This program is how I got to know the CRC because I belonged to a women’s club that made lunches in the winter.
What do you want people to know about the Community Resource Center?
We are judgment-free. It’s a judgment-free zone. Clients come from all walks of life. Someone can walk in looking like they shouldn’t be homeless, but they are. Some of our clients come for two weeks because they’re passing through on their way to someplace warmer.
We pride ourselves on our very welcoming atmosphere.
They can all avail themselves of the same services. We don’t turn anybody away due to race, creed, orientation, or anything else. We pride ourselves on our very welcoming atmosphere.
How do you use funds you’ve received from the Giant Food Community Bag Program?
We use it for everything: food, shampoo, razors, body lotion, laundry detergent, all of it. The winter program alone costs well over $40,000 partially because we hire extra staff, so clients always have someone here to talk to and connect them to other services. We take all the help we can from anywhere.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
One thing that makes a difference is our volunteers who serve our clients every day. They work hard and get very little recognition.
Also, I personally shop almost exclusively at our local Giant because I love the staff. I’ve lived here for 30 years and love that I still see the same guy in produce. I even order my groceries online with Giant. I love Giant; that’s just me. When our volunteers show up, the fact that everybody’s friendly and helpful makes all the difference in the world.
Executive Director Nancy Alexander was interviewed for this impact story.
Published November 22, 2023.