Having grown up in a family of people who served the community, it only made sense that I would follow in the footsteps of my father, my grandmother, my grandfather, and so many others whom I admired and respected. From a volunteer firefighter, to an EMT, to serving on several Board of Director's as well as coaching youth athletics, I have tried to give to others what others have done for me.
As I approached retirement age, I have had the nagging feeling that there was something more I could do, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Then, I read about a food pantry in my hometown of Morgantown, WV, called Pantry Plus More (PPM.) PPM was started by two incredible gentlemen, Roark Sizemore and Tom Bloom. Like Roark, Tom was my high school guidance counselor, though a year or four (okay, more than that, ) later. The two of them took an idea and made it into one of the most highly supported community programs. Not only do they provide food to several schools in Monongalia County, WV, they also provide hygiene products, school supplies and a few clothes. I was fortunate enough to visit the program in May, and I was taken aback by the response of the community. One business even took it upon themselves to become a collection center!
I knew on my drive back home that I found what I wanted to do. However, I wasn't sure what the response would be here. I had been involved in writing a grant for a food pantry once before and found the desire to participate, tepid at best. Turning to a local elementary school, I met with some folks and asked. The response was a resounding YES! Thirty percent of the students were eligible for free and reduced meals, but many students and parents had reached out to the guidance counselor asking for help. So, with the assistance of the school and a dear friend who is a lawyer, the Caring Cupboard was born. We are currently applying for our 501(c)(3) and hope to have it soon. The moment we receive it, we will begin in earnest, fundraising and providing support for those families in our community in need. Hopefully, we'll be able to expand across Anne Arundel County, MD, where we are located. Even if we don't receive the non-profit status by fall, we will be opening the pantry in September, when the students return.
This could never have been possible without the inspiration of Tom and Roark, or without the support of the local school and especially without the legal help of a friend. You are all amazing and greatly appreciated. Stop by often to see how things are progressing!