A Quick Look Back at 2015...Amazing!
This time last year, we were getting ready to make a small move that would turn out to be a big deal!
Providing food assistance for families in Runnemede was such a success, that by the close of 2014, after only ten months, we had already outgrown the local VFW. It was time to either cut back on the number of people we served or increase our reach in a larger facility.
Thanks to the National Park Fire Department, we were able to expand to almost three times the size of our former facility, by them donating the use of their banquet hall. Word spread quickly due to such a great demand for food assistance in the local area, and surrounding towns. Over 120 families joined us when we opened in January, followed by 30-75 new families each month, with a total reach of over 700 families in the past twelve months.
In March, we received a random donation of clothing items and linens. To our delight, each month the donations increased in size and variety, including handbags and shoes thanks to our new partner, Plato's Closet in Deptford. Soon we were making regular pick ups at local schools for unclaimed lost and found items, as well as a local dry cleaner for a tremendous assortment of unclaimed items.
Also in March, we added Flocorp, a local distributor of Nature's Own and Wonder Bread, to our growing number of food partners. Without the support of local businesses such as Shoprite of Mullica Hill, BJ's, Panera Bread, the Food Bank of South Jersey, and Philabundance we would fall desperately short of meeting the ever increasing demand for food.
In July, we moved our offices and equipment to West Deptford, which was made possible by the overwhelming generosity of the A.C. Schultes family. Through their donation of three office units we were able to expand our volunteer staff and storage capabilities.
In August, our Food Distribution made the front page of the South Jersey Times, featuring our Friends & Family Day, free back-to-school hair cuts, and first hand accounts of the impact of the SJDC from our guests.
In October, we hosted our first Open House at our new offices, and shared the mission and vision of the South Jersey Dream Center with local government officials, local school administration, and local business partners.
In November, we hosted our first Food Drive at ManorCare, and our Fourth Annual Dodge Hunger Dodgeball Tournament at the Riverwinds Community Center, both in West Deptford, and BOTH a great success.
Throughout the year, the number of volunteers that joined forces with us in the fight against hunger was phenomenal. People from all walks of life, including students and interns seeking community service hours, bank executives from Columbia Bank, employees and supporters of K-Love Radio, employees of Federal Express Ground, Albert's Organics, and EIRC, local churches, the Faith International Training School, a local resident who donates pet food...moms, dads, families, and so many more.
Each month local professionals shared their time and expertise with our guests through voluntary 45-minute workshops offered just prior to the food distribution. Presentations included Renter's Rights, Overcoming Addictions, Helping Your Child Succeed in School, Family Matters, and other relevant topics designed to help our guests take steps forward to a brighter future.
So here we are again. Back where we started. We need more space! We have already reached capacity at our new facility. Why? Because lives are being changed and people are finding hope through the good news of the Gospel, and a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. We are the South Jersey Dream Center - "Where Hope Opens Doors". In 2015, great doors of opportunity were opened to u