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By Paul Ainslie, President, SVdP Indy

As I complete my first term as Council President, I continue to be impressed by the vast network of volunteers, donors and partners who do God’s work every day. Our volunteers are essential to the actual delivery of services, including food, clothing, furniture and, most importantly, love. Our donors help to keep the pantry well-stocked, ensure we have beds on the shelf for families in need, and enable our Changing Lives Forever program—with over 520 graduates to date.

Our network of partners may be less apparent, but they are also essential to our mission. Gennesaret Free Clinics has expanded their presence at our 30th Street Food Pantry to provide medical care six days a week year-round. Recently, Gennesaret recognized our partnership by presenting SVdP Indy with their Community Heartbeat award, a humbling honor for us.

Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, Midwest Food Bank, Second Helpings, Caito Foods and Community Harvest Food Bank in Fort Wayne are just some of the many partners who help get food to our Pantry each week. Gleaners is certainly our largest supplier of many items, including USDA food, milk, eggs and meat. Second Helpings and Caito provide fresh produce and vegetables, and our relationship with Community Harvest brings meat and cereal grain items to our neighbors.

Second Helpings supports our Home Delivery program with 380 complete ready-to-eat meals each Wednesday—much needed relief for the home-bound. Faith, Hope and Love Community works with us in partnership with DoorDash to deliver food to 20 households in need.

Second Helpings also provides meals for several Changing Lives Forever programs, including St. Philip Neri. Additionally, they are helping us get our kitchen at the Love Your Neighbor Center approved by the Board of Health.

Ascension Health supports our work through grants and with volunteers, and includes our Pantry as part of their leadership training program. Similarly, Eli Lilly and Company includes SVdP in its Global Day of Service and as part of the company’s leadership training program.

Our Changing Lives Forever (CLF) program partners with Trusted Mentors to provide a mentor for graduates. CLF works with the John Boner Neighborhood Centers to offer skills training classes that can lead to job opportunities.  Dress for Success helps CLF grads with career clothing, and Thrivent helps with financial skills. And in addition, CLF works with One Net Coalition and the Marion County Jail to bring a version of the program called Getting Ahead While Getting Out to the Indiana Women’s Prison, where we have seen an overwhelming demand for the program.

The Distribution Center partners with Habitat of Humanity for construction items, Asset Recycling for electronics and metal, Birthline for baby items, FAME Medical Supply for excess home medical items, and Random Acts of Kindness for flower vases—all leading to fewer trips to the landfill. And there are even more partners too numerous to mention.

Donors, volunteers, sponsors, partners and staff came together August 26 for our Summer Soiree, our annual event to raise funds for our work. This year, the focus was on our Love Your Neighbor Center. Together we raised over $240,000 to continue this important work, a phenomenal outpouring of support!

It takes an army of people to do our work. Relationships are the means to getting these partnerships to work. At the core, however, our shared love for our neighbors is essential to our continued success.