We are participating in a national study with other Feeding America food banks around the country called Hunger in America 2014, The purpose is to help us gain a better understanding about the types of programs, services and resources our programs provide. We are currently in the client survey phase of the study which will give us greater insight into the needs and opinions about the services clients receive.
The following guest blog entry is by one of the client survey leaders, Patty, who works with volunteers to gather this important data onsite at some of our member food-assistance programs.
Women’s Mentoring Network – May 23, 2013
I knew when I signed up for this food pantry, it was going to be a challenge to deal with the traffic on I-95, and so it was. I did leave very early, around 6:30 AM, so that I could be there on time when the pantry opened at 9:30. I arrived at 8:00 AM, after sitting in near bumper-to-bumper traffic from Bridgeport all the way to Stamford, so I took a walk around the neighborhood. When I first came to CT in 2000, my job was in Stamford, on Washington St. just around the corner from where WMN is located. So, I took a walk and was amazed at all of the changes in the neighborhood. The building where I worked is still there, but is now a medical complex. There are lots of luxury condos and apartment buildings along Washington Avenue that were non-existent when I was working there. Why, then, are so many in need, I wanted to know.
Stamford, like many other cities and towns in CT, has problems with unemployment as it turns out. WMN assists low-income women to develop employability and personal skills, aids in parenting skills, and teaches women how to take control of their lives and transitions women from government support to financial independence. WMN also opens doors to education and workplace advancement.
Women’s Mentoring Network is run by a small, but dedicated group of women headed by Louise Moss. Louise quickly introduced me and my volunteer Kim to her staff at the tiny food pantry on the second floor. Louise then proudly pointed to several 8×10 collages lining the walls above the shelves of food in one room. The collages depicted each of the smiling clients with words of uplifting encouragement and pride pasted around their photos. Her words tumble out of her mouth with excitement and enthusiasm as she describes the mission of WMN and the work that they do. Louise told us that she left a well paying corporate job to dedicate her life to WMN. What a brave and interesting woman!
Once she gave us a tour, Louise found us two small tables that we could set up in the hallway for the surveys. She insisted on putting some bright table cloths on the tables though it was not necessary. I think that Louise does all that she can to make friends and clients feel comfortable. As we did our surveys, Louise directed clients to us and introduced us to them and to each other. Everyone was friendly and kind.
The clients used large bins to transport the bags of food down to the first floor each time a client picked up food. If not for one of her friends coming by and insisting, Louise would not take time to have lunch. She is a busy bee, always making sure that all of her clients are attended to. What a role model for these women!
To read more about Patty’s experiences when visiting local food assistance programs, click here.