Your Generosity Matters!

Fresh Start Kitchen Equips Families With Basic Supplies for Healthy Meals: A fresh start. For IPM Food Pantry clients starting over from the hardships of homelessness, that’s exactly what they need. IPM’s Fresh Start Kitchen program, launched in November 2021, provides the kitchen basics that families need to prepare healthy meals with the food that we provide through our Drive-Through and Mobile food pantries.

Willie, our first IPM Fresh Start Kitchen client, just moved into Thomaston Woods, and affordable living community, and his kitchen cupboards were bare, but IPM was there to help.

Fresh Start Kitchen basics are items that most of us may take for granted when we go to prepare a meal. Those basics range from spices, condiments and other pantry staples (sugar, flour) to small appliances and kitchen accessories such as toasters, can openers, measuring cups, and storage containers. Clients choose the supplies they need from the Fresh Start Kitchen list, and IPM stocks their kitchen with the requested items.

“We often do not think of all of the intricacies that go into having a well-stocked kitchen,” said Sue Schindler, service coordinator for Episcopal Retirement Services, which oversees Thomaston Woods. “IPM has put so much thought into what families might need.”

For Willie, those supplies included a stock pot, frying pan, blender and potato peeler. And his own special request? A box of Oreos.

“Many of our families have experienced hardships during their lives, especially during the pandemic. Fresh Start Kitchen reminds residents of their importance, the importance of their family and brings stabilization and food security.” – Sue Schindler, Service Coordinator, Episcopal Retirement Services

A Reason for Hope: When Bevin moved to Cincinnati seven years ago with her two young daughters, she felt hopeless, but she was determined to make a better life for her children. Although she had extensive work experience, Bevin learned that she would need additional training to obtain a similar job in her new home, but she did not give up. Bevin found two jobs to get by: one as a waitress and another as a personal caregiver for an elderly gentleman. She also began nursing school.

“On Saturday night,” Bevin described, “I would often go to work thinking about my kids, knowing exactly how many tips I needed to pay our rent for the month.”

When a friend told Bevin about IPM Food Pantry, she felt apprehensive, “I was worried about what people would think, but my family was in need, so I walked through the pantry doors.”

Once inside the pantry, volunteers treated Bevin with care and concern, and she never felt judged for her situation. Rather, she explained, “The volunteers were so welcoming, and I was relieved that I could count on the pantry for the food my family needed.” Knowing people cared for her helped Bevin get out of bed each morning and persevere toward her goals.

Today, Bevin has completed her nursing degree and works full time for a dialysis center. She has also become a regular volunteer at the Newtown Pantry. With one day off each week, she thought, “There is no better way to give back than to volunteer my time at the IPM Pantry, where I found a sense of dignity and hope when I needed it the most.”

Client Sends a Special Thank You: When Erin moved to Cincinnati late 2019, she never anticipated what 2020 would bring. She enrolled her three sons in school and began working with a job coach to find employment in her new home. She described feeling overwhelmed as her situation changed, “As soon as I started to interview, I received a message from the boys’ principal that school was going virtual due to COVID-19.”

Knowing she could not leave her three children home alone to complete their academic work, she made the decision to put her job search on hold, and their family continued carefully living on one income.

Erin and her sons, who are 12, 9, and 3, all have pre-existing conditions that put them at high risk for the novel coronavirus. The boys have spent much of their childhood in and out of the hospital with respiratory conditions. As the pandemic worsened, Erin knew she could not send her children to school in the fall and made the difficult decision to choose virtual school from home. She shared, “The financial stress and pressure were unbelievable. We were trying our best to get by on one income, but it was impossible.”

When Erin visited IPM for the first time for food, she said IPM staff made her feel at ease, “The pantry staff is amazing. They have a smile on their faces no matter how many cars are in the line or what the weather is like. They know my name and always ask about my kids.”

Erin explained how hopeless she felt during this challenging time and expressed gratitude to IPM for being there for her family, “I really don’t know what we would have done without you. You have been such a blessing. I can’t tell you how much the food and diapers have helped our family. You are getting us through each day.”

Because of the impact on Erin and her family, she and her sons delivered this handwritten card to IPM:

As we have welcomed those in need to IPM’s pantries in recent months, one-third of our guests are visiting IPM for the first time. Thank you for helping us support so many individuals like Erin who had not faced food insecurity before the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Salvador’s Story: Inter Parish Ministry’s first new client in 2018 traveled 1,800 miles to get to the Newtown Food and Clothing Pantry. Leaving hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico with $57 in his pocket, Salvador and his family struggled during their first months in Ohio. Having to live in hotels—and even spending nights in the Mt. Washington Cemetery—the family was close to giving up hope. Fortunately, Salvador and his wife both found jobs and are now living in their own apartment. However, with raising one son and expecting a new baby in July, the family is constantly juggling expenses for food, heat, rent and healthcare.

Hearing about IPM’s Choice Food and Clothing Pantry from a local church, Salvador and his son stopped by on a bitter cold morning. After receiving food and warm winter coats, scarves and hats for his family, Salvador took a few minutes to talk with IPM. “I could not believe how nice people are here,” said Salvador. “IPM has given me hope. The volunteers are so happy to help, and I can tell they really care about me.”

Thank you to our friends, volunteers and donors, who help families like Salvador’s find comfort and hope at IPM.

Greg and Melissa: His soft-spoken voice trembled when he said it. “By the grace of God we are still getting by.”  Greg continued to explain that he is thankful that IPM is there for Melissa and their three children.  IPM’s Food Pantry is “one of their biggest blessings” ever since Greg was in a critical car accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury.  He is a trained pharmacist who can no longer perform his job.

Greg and Melissa

Greg and Melissa

We have shared Melissa and Greg’s story with you before. They are people just like you.  People just like us.  The only difference is that their family is in crisis.

We spoke with them just the other day. Greg is making slow and steady progress.  They continue to make ends meet as much as they can for their three almost grown children.  Melissa and Greg are grateful that IPM is there for them as they continue with this real-life struggle.

Families like Susan’s.  She is a great grandmother who just took in David and Norris.  Both boys were abandoned by their heroin addicted parents.  Susan is on a fixed income, just making ends meet.  But she couldn’t let her great grandsons go to foster care and be without family, so she took them in.

She sought help from IPM, not only for food but for Christmas too. Unfortunately, we see many grandparents like these, now caring for grandchildren because of the increasing heroin epidemic that plagues our community.

Jane was referred to IPM by one of our Clermont County Safety Net Alliance collaborators where she was employed. She usually referred clients to IPM so it was very difficult for her to ask for financial assistance for herself. Her husband worked at a good job, but on Thanksgiving Day he suffered a heart attack and hadn’t been able to work since. Only in his 30’s, he smoked and was overweight . . .this was his wake-up call. Jane and her husband have four daughters, ages 2-13. IPM contributed $640 toward their mortgage to help this family through this medical emergency.

Volunteer Gives Back to IPM

Tracey and Carol6Once a month, on a Monday night Tracey Abrams arrives, along with her 5-year-old daughter Ava, to take her volunteer shift at Inter Parish Ministry’s (IPM) Choice Food Pantry in Newtown.

This single working mother of 3 finds time to volunteer to give back to an organization that once gave so much to her children.

Tracey found herself suddenly single with bills to pay and children to feed about four years ago. Through referral she found the help she needed at IPM. Tracey received food, clothing, financial assistance to pay an electric bill and other help. This included back to school items for her children.

“I don’t have money to give back to IPM for all the help they have given me –so I have found a niche of time to volunteer.” said Tracey.

Tracey knows first-hand how the more than 5,000 families who will visit Inter Parish Ministry feel when they walk through the door for help. “I’ve been in their situation; I can relate to them and can give them the sense of hope that was given to me.” she said.