October 2016 marks my 5 year anniversary of joining BEAM as its Executive Director. To say that these years have been full of change is a great understatement! From our expanded pantry operations and the addition of Grace Garden, to the opening of three BEAM Thrift stores, and to our most recent addition of the Beaches Community Food Bank, each year has been marked by growth. It is a blessing and a gift to work for an organization that is nimble and responsive to the needs of the community and the people it serves. When we saw that increasingly the food we receive from grocery stores was perishable and not the dented cans and damaged boxes of the past, we responded by adding cold storage facilities and refrigerated trucks. When we saw that government and foundation funding for assistance programs such as ours were being cut, we opened the thrift stores to help create sustainable funding streams so that we could continue to help our neighbors in times of financial crisis.
Our objective always is to meet community need but not to duplicate great work that is already going on. To that end, we will be discontinuing our Christmas Toy program this year. For many years we have been providing toys to children in the community who might otherwise do without. But over the last few years we have seen an enormous increase in the number of churches and organizations providing the same service. Rather than continue to duplicate services that are already available, we are focusing our efforts on our core programs. Hunger is a problem every day for 1 in 7 adults and 1 in 4 children. And families living paycheck to paycheck, often lose their housing or have their lights turned off during a financial crisis. We are in a unique position to address these very significant needs in our community and hope that you will support our efforts.
This year we will be assisting our local St Vincent de Paul Society as they expand their very successful Christmas program to ensure that no child goes without a visit from Santa. We will work with them to sign up the families who come to BEAM for services and share any donated toys with them. We will also be providing information to connect families who need help to the many organizations that provide toys during the holidays.
Although we are discontinuing this program, our recent completion by our Board of Directors of a Strategic Planning initiative will bring future expansion of services to our community. We are excited about the future of the organization and the opportunity to serve in an efficient and impactful way. Thank you for your generous support with your time, talent and treasure. Our entire community is lifted up when we care for those in need.