Good Neighbors Food Pantry celebrates its five-year anniversary!

Five years ago, on September 22, 2015, we opened our doors to our neighbors in need. We served 42 families that day, affirming the need we have in our area.

In 2015, we couldn’t have predicted, or even dreamed, the situation we would face in 2020. But from the very beginning, Good Neighbors has been built on the generous support of the community and the dedication and hard work of our passionate volunteers. This put us in a good position to deal with the current challenges of the pandemic. With compassion for our neighbors who were and are struggling with additional burdens, and concern for their safety as well as the safety of our volunteers, we changed our whole system and didn’t skip a beat fulfilling our mission.

Our community’s generosity and concern for those in need is remarkable and heartwarming. So many of you stepped up this year to make sure we had the necessary funds to meet the need, some giving for the first time, and others increasing their giving. With all the concerns we had, it was such a relief not to worry about money, and to know we would be able to provide high quality food in ample amounts — even though we couldn’t hold fundraisers. Beyond the practical help that your giving provided, just knowing our community had such great concern for the people we serve gave us tremendous moral support! Thank you for caring about your neighbors, and for your confidence in us!

Looking back at our beginnings, I am struck by the number of people who jumped in with both feet and committed their time and talents to getting us off the ground. From first discussions to opening our doors, it took only six months! A big part of that timeline was the offer from Dr. Mansfield at the Boyne Area Free Clinic of a space to use in their building. What a gift that was, and continues to be, as we pay only utilities for our lease.

With help from builders, businesses, and volunteers, there was a bustle of activity installing a new floor, building shelves, acquiring appliances, and painting. Behind the scenes we were getting our 501(c)3 nonprofit designation, fundraising, and recruiting and training volunteers.

The last couple of years we’ve served an average of 60 families per week, which represents an average of 212 individuals, including 73 children and 28 seniors. Thanksgiving is our busiest time of year, when we give boxes with ingredients to make a Thanksgiving meal at home. Our first year we served 67 families, and in 2019 it was 155. We look forward to helping at least that many families this year. We’re doing a scaled-down version of our Turkey fundraiser, so you may see information about that at Stigg’s and Pat O’Brien Real Estate.

It takes many hands to pull all of this together! Some of our volunteers have been with Good Neighbors from the very beginning, and some have become indispensable in a short period of time. All bring their unique attributes and are highly valued by their fellow volunteers. In addition to all the volunteers on Tuesdays, which is the day we’re open to serve our neighbors, here’s a brief summary of other volunteer activity: every week we buy thousands of pounds of food from The Manna Food Project, so we have volunteers driving to pick it up, and people stocking the shelves; we also have volunteers shopping at area stores; volunteers picking up surplus food from stores and the Farmer’s Market; volunteers tending pantry gardens; volunteers planning fundraisers (usually); and our board of directors at the helm guiding the organization. All of these volunteers are amazing!

Thanks, Boyne City, for pulling together and helping our community members thrive!