By Estelle R. Brown
Pictured above: Volunteers help sort and stock donations at the Nelson Garrettsville Community Cupboard.
The Villager – Timing is everything
For the Nelson-Garrettsville Community Cupboard (NGCC), a $10,000 grant from MassMutual couldn’t have come at a better time. The non-profit food bank has been working to re-establish itself since the March 22 fire which wiped out its former location and one-third of Garrettsville’s downtown business district.
Chris Perme — a Garrettsville financial planner who operates Perme Financial Group from 8133 Windham Street and also serves on the advisory board of the NGCC — applied for the grant just days after the devastating fire.
“MassMutual offers 11 grants per year, and I’ve applied for them in the past but never was awarded one,” Perme says. “This application deadline was March 30. With the devastation of the fire still fresh on my mind, I think my sense of urgency came through in my application.”
The NGCC will receive its grant at the same time Perme will be awarded the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company’s prestigious Community Service Gold Award, which recognizes field associates who are making an exceptional difference in their community. Perme was selected for the award based on his ‘outstanding volunteer commitment and community service efforts with the NGCC, an agency member of Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank. The award and grant will be presented during MassMutual’s 2014 Leaders’ Conference in August in California.
Perme is not a traditional volunteer, but is involved in fundraising, marketing, long-term financial planning and budgeting; influencing the growth, development and awareness of NGCC.
Perme is grateful that this MassMutual grant represents one of the largest single gifts the Community Cupboard has ever received and recognizes it will help the NGCC to become self-sufficient and better able to serve the hungry over the long term. Added to donations from tremendous community support, the funding will contribute toward replacing food, shelving, refrigerators, freezers and office equipment that were all lost in the fire.
“The generosity of this gift also lifts some of the short-term pressure off our organization,” he said. “It’s allowing us to think beyond survival, to take a longer term view and ensuring the food cupboard’s longevity as a lasting service to those in need. Now we can grow and develop for the next 50 years, instead of thinking month to month or year to year.”
Mike Elias, co-founder of NGCC, recognizes that this gift offers great encouragement to the organization’s volunteers, who have “worked tirelessly as a team over the past two-and-a-half years, and especially in the past three months, to establish the Cupboard.”
The NGCC, which has operated from several locations throughout Nelson and Garrettsville since 2012, had moved to the Buckeye Block of downtown Garrettsville just months before it was leveled by fire. It is now operating from 12157 State Route 88 (near the former Bil-Mar turkey farm). Regular hours of operation are Monday, 3-6pm and Wednesday, 9am-12 noon.
Expressing an intention is to move back to Garrettsville once rebuilding is complete, Elias said, “Our location in the Buckeye Block on Center Street was perfect for NGCC. We were happy to be part of Main Street’s business community, and being located near the PARTA Transportation line was a great convenience for our clients. It is our hope that a spot can be found for the Cupboard as the rebuilding efforts get under way.”
In its short history, the food outreach has assisted more than 245 families. Currently, approximately 660 residents are using the food cupboard; over 50% of them children and senior citizens — and the need is increasing. Since its inception, the NGCC has distributed more than 64,500 items of food. More than one in seven Ohio households are reportedly facing a daily risk of hunger or are considered ‘food insecure’ — an increase of 71,000 households over last year.
Needless to say, there’s no time like the present to ‘shut the door on hunger;’ the mission statement of the Nelson-Garrettsville Community Cupboard.
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