To kick off our new year we had the company of Lori Towner for our first meeting in July. Lori joined WWCM in April 2014 as the part time Development Director. She has been a resident of North Carolina for over 20 years, living in Western Wake County for most of that time. She is a Penn State alum (twice) and has a background in fundraising with a variety of non-profits both as a volunteer and as an employee. Her family mission includes a commitment of giving back to those in need and that is what brought her to WWCM. Does that sound familiar Lions?
Lori began her remarks by thanking the Apex Lions Club for our continued support over the years. The ministry relies on the generosity and efforts of organizations like ours to accomplish their mission. Western Wake Crisis Ministry provides for peoples basic needs in a dignified and supportive manner. They often serve people who have not been in a situation where they have needed such help before and it takes courage to ask for that help.
The exciting news is that they are moving to a new location soon (opening day is anticipated to be September 13-16). This new location will be twice as large as the previous one in downtown Apex. The new location is near the intersection of Olive Chapel Road and Kelly Road near the I540 bridge and the new Publix which is also not yet opened. The address is 1600 Olive Chapel Drive Suite 408. The new space will be setup somewhat like a grocery store to provide a familiar experience to the clients. Lion John Potts moving company will be helping them move the big items and the Apex Lions Club has agreed to provide some manpower to help build shelves (donated by Food Lion) when the time comes. This will most likely be the week of August 29. They are planning a Grand Opening party for October 28-29. This will be a “Housewarming Hoedown” with a huge food drive on Saturday and some Tours and volunteer recruiting to follow.
Lori is responsible primarily for fund raising which primarily consists of one big event each year and that is a golf tournament. This year it will be held on September 19th. This is a fun tournament and intended to raise money – not so much a competition – so anyone can join. The primary service provided by Western Wake Crisis Ministry is a food pantry. Families are asked to provide some proof of need. Once vetted, the family can “shop” at the food pantry once each 30 days. Last year the ministry supported about 2728 families and served just under 9,000 people. They also provided financial aid to about 638 families for things like transportation needs or if the power company is about to terminate services. They also have a Thanksgiving food drive and the Apex Police help with that event. They typically serve about 200 families per month and it is not always the same families each month. Their records indicate that a given family will request services between 1 and 9 times and then will no longer need their services.
They are starting to see more and more elderly in need of services so they are starting a pilot program for delivering food items to the elderly which have issues getting to the ministry to shop. This is not the same as other services such as Meals On Wheels but they will refer people to such services if they are mote appropriate. In fact, the ministry maintains a list of other services and refers people to those services quite often. They have an interview process that is used to fit the client with the best and most appropriate source of help possible.
They also partner with other organizations like the Simple Gifts Community Garden in Apex. The garden donates fresh vegetables which are very difficult to come by otherwise. Some other partners are the UNC Mobile Clinic which provides free medical services for clients and PNC Financial Empowering Program which provides financial education. And the ministry has a Jobs For Life program of it’s own which helps clients who are in need of employment learn how to write a resume, interview and get a job to get back on track to support themselves.
The best part of the meeting came at the very end when our new president Lion Tony Gravanda was able to present a check for $5,000 to Lori. This was the proceeds from our Fish Fry in March. We are so grateful to have an organization like Western Wake Crisis Ministry supporting our area. And we are also grateful for the people of Apex that support us at the Fish Fry and other events that allow us to do what we do.