Helping Hands: Agencies of the Quarter
Since the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Livingston County Food Pantry on October 14th of 2009, the pantry located on Milwaukee Street in Chillicothe has done exactly what organizers said it would, help those in need. Highview Baptist Church is truly leading the mission with its amazing support by providing internet, phone service, utilities, volunteers and the space where the pantry is housed. Two other local churches are also strong supporters, Souls Harbor and Calvary Baptist Church in Chillicothe.
There are an estimated 14,500 residents in Livingston County which lies about 60 miles northeast of Kansas City.
The pantry serves as a vital resource for county families in emergency or crisis situations with the help of Second Harvest Community Food Bank and USDA Commodities. Each month, 250 families venture to the pantry to take advantage of the government's food commodity program, which has experienced a 60% increase since the food bank's inception.
An average of 40 to 50 families are served weekly, but while the Livingston County Food Pantry has been a blessing to so many, there is none more thankful than its director, Amy Poindexter. “I have prayed for a pantry at our church for years. When we had the opportunity to take the pantry over, I was so excited. But a month into it, I was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia and was gone for two months,” said Amy.
Amy is currently in remission after 11 months of chemotherapy for a cancer she says is the only reported case like it world-wide. She will continue to fight the disease with oral chemotherapy for another year. “I thought I had problems, but these people have heart- breaking issues. Just to lend an ear is a gift in itself. It's nice to be able to listen and gain new perspective,” said Amy.
Livingston County's Food Pantry Director will touch many with her story of strength, but it's her time and effort that touches others. “We always carry their food out to be a blessing, able or not, it's just what we do. Last year we added a kids summer program called LOL: Lunches of Love with the help of Second Harvest kid-friendly food items. It was amazing. This coming year we would like to continue children's programs and add a program of outreach to the elderly.”
If you would like to encourage Amy Poindexter, you can e-mail her:
Hours of operation: Monday, Wednesday 1-4 p.m., Friday 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
Five years ago, Mary Jo Fletchall decided to make a career change. Armed with an accounting degree, Fletchall accepted the position of director at her hometown pantry. After all, Mary Jo knew what it was to struggle. “Even though you have an education doesn‟t mean you still can‟t be poor. I‟m a single mom of two kids. I‟ve been there.”
There is a deep sense of accomplishment when you look at the story of Worth County. With a population of 2,000, this area has never seen a lot of job opportunities due to infrastructure. Worth is the smallest county in the state of Missouri, and 64 percent of its children qualify for free and reduced school lunches. Despite these obstacles, Fletchall is proud to report her pantry is currently serving 109 families (280 people) each month, and this summer the agency began its first Lunchbox Diner program in conjunction with Second Harvest Community Food Bank at the Grant City Pool Park. Each day 29 meals are given to children in desperate need of nourishment through the new program. Overall, 5,289 pounds of food were distributed in Worth County by Community Services Incorporated in the 2009-2010 fiscal year.
Fletchall is delighted that she is able to make a difference in the lives of single moms and dads such as herself. “When I tell folks that they qualify, they often say, „there is somebody who needs it more than I do.‟ There is still such a sense of pride among our residents.” Regardless, Mary Jo knows the reality: the jobs may never come to Worth county, but if they work hard to bring services, lives will improve.
Second Harvest applauds the work of Community Services; just one of hundreds of agencies in Northwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas making a dent in the hunger issue on our rural countryside. Community Services Incorporated serves a five-county area including Nodaway, Gentry, Holt, Atchinson and Worth counties.