In The News

The Cavalry Isn’t Coming, So Figure It Out

As a kid I remember watching some great stories on TV where the townspeople were in trouble and just at what seemed like the last minute, the cavalry came riding over the hill to save the day! I heard a presenter at one of the meetings I attended a few years ago describe the dire circumstances of the community and ended his point by saying, “Guess what, the cavalry isn’t going to be riding over the hill to save us, we have to figure this out on our own”. That reality statement has kind of a Doctor Phil sound to it. But for me, I think it has some wisdom to chew on for many circumstances we wrestle with Second Harvest Food Bank and the community at large.

I have to recognize our Forward STEPS initiative, that works side-by-side with under-resourced families if they choose to participate and go the distance. That takes no cavalry, but empathy from the team and community members. It does require a commitment of about 18-36 months from the families who participate. The Youth Enrichment segment of this, which now number some 80 kids, is a game-changer for many kids as they continue through these relationships building experiences.

We also focus on family relationship building and youth educational advancement called The Big Idea. As part of our “shorten the line of need” strategy, this impacts families with school-age children to connect with school staff toward positive reinforcement of reading readiness and socialization. It also connects local community resource providers to these energized school events. We are now lining up people who will come and share their career path with the kids and families as well, by hopefully, planting some Big Ideas for these families to consider what their “future story” may be.

Our food distribution programs through Agency Partners, the Tailgate Distribution and Senior Safety Net initiatives are providing some short-term emergency or in some cases long-term chronic relief from food insecurity which is just one of the spokes of drudgery in the ugly wheel of poverty. We must continue to stretch our hands out to other social service providers and find ways of partnering, collaborating and yes, consider merger where it makes sense as the need for hitting the bulls eye increases and target shooting becomes a thing of the past. Imagine a few multi-service facilities in strategic locations around a city that are open afternoons and evenings multiple days per week in place of the patchwork quilt with many holes that we now have in all our 8-county service area. Smaller communities have embraced this for a long time out of necessity and connectedness. It should be more apparent in larger communities, but seems slow to materialize.

It’s time to “Get Real” as Doctor Phil might say. The struggling population seems to be “stubbornly stuck” even with gains in the economy. For various reasons, this population is struggling to become self-sufficient families. Some will always wrestle with this, but for many, it should be temporary or short term. I’ve never met someone who is struggling that likes it. I’ve also met many who have the same life experiences that I do, but have paid a heavier price because they have an entry level wage job. Everybody has a responsibility to step up and be part of the “solution”. That might be going back to school, stopping destructive behaviors, reading to our kids, mentoring someone, using the gifts of talent, time and treasure we have to make innovative ideas the new reality.  We all know the cavalry isn’t showing up, so maybe we can identify and break through some self-imposed barriers which feel safe, but aren’t allowing the next steps we need to take.     

 

 Tim Kean is the President and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana. The Second Harvest Food Bank network of 95-member agencies, programs and 35 schools provide relationship building and food assistance to more than 65,000 low-income people facing daily instability in Blackford, Delaware, Grant, Henry, Jay, Madison, Randolph and Wabash Counties.

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We Are GuideStar Gold Certified!

Second Harvest recently earned the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, the world’s largest database of nonprofit organizations.  Less than five percent of non-profits registered with GuideStar are recognized with a Gold Seal. A Gold Seal status is the leading symbol of non-profit transparency and accountability.

The Gold Seal means Second Harvest has published qualitative information about our goals, strategies, and vision.  Second Harvest is dedicated to providing current and potential donors with accurate and in-depth knowledge about the many ways we are responsibly advancing our mission and vision with all donations we receive. 

GuideStar provides a Seal rating (Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum) on all 1.8 million IRS-registered nonprofit organizations. The goal is to provide as much information as they can so that a donor can make his or her own determination of where to donate money. The elements provided on each nonprofit can include:

  • Verification of registration with the IRS
  • Financial data: Annual Revenue and Expenses, including IRS Forms 990 and independent audit reports
  • Mission Objectives
  • Impact Summary: from the nonprofit
  • Individual reviews from those who’ve volunteered information on the nonprofit either directly through GuideStar or through the partner organization, GreatNonprofits.

This information can then be used by both the nonprofit to encourage prospective donors, and, by donors to best determine who should get their money. Most information is available free online to website visitors. Additional information, plus data in downloadable formats, are available by subscription.

GuideStar is often utilized by businesses, organizations, and foundations to quickly get information on a nonprofit. For example, Google’s giving arm – Google Grants – uses the GuideStar list to verify the existence and registration status of each nonprofit applying for a grant worth $120,000 per year of free AdWords advertising. Because of this reliance by grantmakers, it is important to nonprofits to insure their information is up-to-date and as complete as possible in the GuideStar database. To learn more about GuideStar, visit: http://www.guidestar.org, and search for Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana.

Second Harvest is also pleased to announce the upgraded designation to a Four Star Charity Navigator Non–Profit.

Charity Navigator focuses on how and where donations are spent:

  • what is being spent on programs;
  • administrative expenses;
  • fundraising costs; and
  • “fundraising efficiency” – how much do you spend to bring in a $1 of donation?

They also include accountability and transparency utilizing information extracted from our IRS Form 990 and information from our website (governance; independent audits; etc.). The focus is around the charity’s obligation and willingness to expose their business practices to the public and our responsiveness in answering questions about those practices.

Charity Navigator currently rates approximately 8,000 charities on their website and over 7 million people have visited the site to-date to learn more about those organizations. The ratings and underlying data for a nonprofit are available online and free to the public. 

For more information about our rating, visit http://www.charitynavigator.org, and search for Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana.

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Please Give A Warm Welcome to…

Please give a warm welcome to Michael Mitchell, our newest Warehouse Associate! He’s long familiar with warehouse work, but also has experience in the security industry. He finds Second Harvest a bit more challenging. “At my old job, you pulled a few orders and that was it for the day, but here, the orders are constant.” We know he’ll be able to rise to the challenge, and lift us up as he does.

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MLK Day of Service, 1-20-20

Second Harvest had a literal busload of volunteers from Ball State University Student Voluntary Services this afternoon, and we were never without Greek Organizations – Alpha Kappa, Alpha Phi Alpha, and Kappa Delta and more! Thank you so much to every kind-hearted #Volunteer who chose to make #MLKDay #DayOfService a Day On, not a Day Off!

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Donor Recognition: Jack Surface

Jack and Melanie Surface

Each of our donors has a unique and inspirational story tied to their support and giving to Second Harvest, and we’re thrilled to share the impact of Jack Surface, Owner, Midas Auto Experts.

“I’m a firm believer in supporting the communities of Muncie and Anderson, Indiana, who have supported me and my business over these past fifty years,” said Surface. “What better way to say thank you to these two amazing communities than to give back and to give to those who need it.”

As a well-known and well-liked community leader in both the cities of Muncie and Anderson, Jack reached out to Second Harvest during the holidays with a unique fundraiser for Second Harvest by offering all those who listen to a local radio station and who follow both Midas Auto Experts and Second Harvest on social media, a monetary match of online donations up to $5,000. With Jack’s name at the helm, his goal was far exceeded!

“We are so grateful for Jack and the Midas Team. Their commitment to community shows in their generous support of the work we do at Second Harvest,” said Dianne Hovermale, Director of Philanthropy for Second Harvest. “They truly care about their neighbors, and we see them as partners in providing help for today and hope for tomorrow to East Central Indiana.”

From all us at Second Harvest, thank you, Jack, for your energy, creativeness, and ongoing support of our mission and vision.

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Together We Are Making An Impact – Thank You

We are getting more food out the door than last year. That is really good news. Our food distribution is up over last year by 9%. We are seeing more struggling families receive enough food to cover the average gap of 7 pounds per person per week. That number is important. When someone is able to access that amount of food in one location they not only receive enough food to cover their gap for a week, but they will not have to visit another location that week which saves time and limited resources. Being able to have a little more time and resources is sometimes all that is needed for someone to be much closer to self-sufficiency versus being dependent on a system that forces them to make multiple visits to different locations. What would your life be like if you had to visit multiple stores to get what you needed to eat and had a quarter of a tank of gas until Friday?

Educators tell us that kids do better in school when the parents are engaged and are in sync with the school staff. The School Pantry Program is designed to facilitate a positive experience to get parents and teachers talking about positive things happening with the children, who in turn respond to the positive messaging they hear at home and at school by seeing themselves in a positive path for the future. Raising a generation of kids who are aimed at a self-sufficient adulthood that will not need a safety net of social service providers is what this program is about. We all need kids to find a path (not the same path) to making it on their own and to raise their children to be self-sufficient as well. Our efforts are prioritized to make shortening the line of need our first priority.

We engage struggling families to take the steps needed to end the poverty cycle and the rest of the community to facilitate those steps by removing barriers they may not even are aware that exist. We want to change the system and drive permanent impact. If you would like to learn more about barriers, we have experienced facilitators and would love to partner with you to host a training session.

Have a great July,
Tim
President & CEO

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Growth In Programming Requires More Volunteers

In the last 18 months we have experienced substantial growth in our programming. The growth has come primarily in our School Pantry Program. We are now in partnership with 10 schools in 4 counties and we are ready to move forward with another 14 schools that would represent 7 counties. This parent-school staff relationship building program continues to grow in numbers of families who attend each month. Schools are seeing a record number of parents engage with them. This slow burn, continual interaction is providing great opportunities for parents to learn what is going on at school, discuss the progress their child is making and develop a positive impression about school visits. The big win is that the children are exposed to positive discussions every month about their education which sets the stage for improvement in academic achievement. We all want and need for these kids to do well in school so our communities can continue to produce self-sustaining young adults who are ready to further their education or technical training and fill the jobs we have available now and see in our future.

This program growth needs more volunteer engagement to allow it to expand into schools who have already expressed an interest in partnering with us. This is a great opportunity for a church to “adopt” a school and supply the volunteer needs on a regular basis. It takes a group of 4-5 people to meet the delivery truck and get the food into the building and set it up for the distribution to happen after school. It takes about 12-15 people to come to the school just before the distribution happens (usually around 4 or 4:30) and pass the food out to families until approximately 6-6:30. This normally happens once per month at each location. The total time commitment would be in the neighborhood of 3 hours per month if you volunteered for the delivery crew or the distribution crew. There is also the opportunity for the volunteer to engage deeper with the school and consider participating in a mentoring program or volunteer to be a chaperone for a field trip. These opportunities can provide a positive impression on a young child for a lifetime.

I ran across a simple explanation for Categories of Volunteering provided by BRiCKs Alliance, Inc. It breaks down volunteering in 4 ways, but I’m sure there is some overlap. 1) Give – Provide basic needs (clothing, food, money, etc.). I have something from which others can benefit. 2) Do – Provide time, skills-based support, etc. I really do not know what it is like to be in another’s situation, but I provide support in ways that I hope will help. 3) – Engage (Volunt-Hearing) My friend needs my assistance but they define what they need. Realization that this is part of my life, not a “project” I learn from the relationship about myself and my community. Two-way relationship! 4) Advocate – I have a broader understanding of my community and I learn from my relationships about systemic barriers. (I am dissatisfied with the current state.) All that said, every important effort requires collective energy to be accomplished.

There are deep needs in this community. Everyone can has something to offer from the most gifted to the least, even if you are in need, you have something to offer. We teach our children by the way we engage to assist the community to become a better place. A place where they may want to live because they can find a job, their kids can get a great education and the community works together to raise the boat we are all in. We need a few groups to work a few hours once a month so relationships will grow and kids will be in a better place because of it. Will you help? You may just love it.

Tim Kean is the President and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana. The Second Harvest Food Bank network of 115-member agencies and programs provides food assistance to more than 70,000 low-income people facing hunger in Blackford, Delaware, Grant, Henry, Jay, Madison, Randolph and Wabash Counties.

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TEAMWork for Quality Living Merger

On February 25, 2016 we held a press conference to announce that Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana and Teamwork for Quality Living (TQL) will come together and merge our two great organizations into one, effective July 1, 2016.

Since the announcement, there has been a lot of buzz from the community around just how this will work. So here are a few of the facts for clarity.

  1. TEAMwork for Quality Living will move under the umbrella of Second Harvest Food Bank as a program.
  2. The TQL staff will become part of the Second Harvest staff and will move to the Second Harvest facility.
  3. The 501 (c) 3 status held by TQL will be dissolved and we will operate under the 501 (c) 3 held by Second Harvest.
  4. The community can continue to contribute specifically to the TQL program after the merge.
  5. We intend to develop partnerships for this program in the other 7 counties we serve as we go forward.

motherandbabyOver the last several months, our board and management team at Second Harvest have been developing a long-range strategic plan for the continued growth and sustainability of the organization. Through this process, we looked closely at the issues related to hunger and food insecurity across East Central Indiana and we challenged ourselves to evaluate every aspect of our organization to find solutions to these problems.

While there were numerous outcomes from this process, likely the most significant was a refined definition of our organizational purpose. Once this was in place, we were able to develop strategic objectives that will advance the organization and direct our energy, resources, and expertise in two core focus areas.

This is best described in the following phrase; Help for Today and Hope for Tomorrow!

Help for Today and Hope for Tomorrow is what this merger is about. This merger represents the practical application of what Help for Today and Hope for Tomorrow looks like in real terms. Our organization is in its 33rd year of operation. Picture our operation as a 3-legged stool. This first leg is Food Distribution. This is how most people would define us. We access millions of pounds of food that would go to waste and get into the hands of struggling people. This is what Help for Today looks like – providing immediate short-term assistance.

Our current Hope for Tomorrow areas of emphasis include our second leg – Education. We have always had the role and responsibility of providing a food education component for the people in need and to expand the knowledge of the general public regarding the circumstances of struggling people.

Hope for Tomorrow also includes the third leg of our stool, which is our role in Advocacy. To speak out for those have no voice but who have a right to be heard in all areas of our government and in our communities.

This merger enhances Hope for Tomorrow by adding an important fourth leg to our work, a pathway to self-sufficiency.

This will assist in providing a way for someone who wants to change the circumstances they’re in by starting on a path toward self-sufficiency, free from dependency on the safety net of service providers. This program coaches and encourages people with accountability on ways they can move from “Surviving to THRIVING”. This additional leg of our stool will help “shorten the line” of need. Providing this important path for independence provides Hope for Tomorrow and in doing so, we all benefit.

 

Written by Tim Kean

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