MINT HILL, NC – In early May, North Carolina’s unemployment system logged its one millionth claim filed since March 16. It’s an unprecedented number that indicates that more than one in five of North Carolina’s working adults – nearly ten percent of the state’s population – have lost their jobs in the past six weeks.
“Servant’s Heart was created to serve folks who are struggling financially in our community,” says Founder and Executive Director Kim Rhodarmer. “We have been on the front line every Thursday distributing a one-week supply of groceries to about 100 people. This is week seven.” In the past seven weeks, Servant’s Heart has given out $27,036 in primarily food items, and they’re currently booked with client requests for the next two Thursdays – and a waiting list – from the food pantry alone.
Servant’s Heart has been able to meet this need thanks to generous cash and material donations from the community. One of those recent donations came from Mint Hill Realtor Jennifer Lambert, who coordinated a donation drive with the generous support of her fellow agents in the Allen Tate Matthews-Mint Hill office. On April 30, Lambert delivered over 80 canned goods, 40 boxes of Mac & Cheese, 100 cups of applesauce, 180 granola bars, 26 pounds of pasta, 15 jars of peanut butter, cereal, pancake mix, and a surprising amount of toilet paper and paper towels.
“Realtors build lives and communities. They also serve those communities year round, and when special needs arise,” says Lambert. “The needs around us are immense right now, and it made perfect sense to support Servant’s Heart of Mint Hill, which already serves families in need in our community.”
The food Servant’s Heart distributes on Thursdays comes in part from its Emergency Food Pantry, a small selection of nonperishable food items meant to stop clients from going hungry while awaiting a trip to a full food pantry. Servant’s Heart is also currently distributing food for Loaves and Fishes, who had to halt their own volunteer operation in mid-March amongst COVID-19 concerns.
A unique resource at Servant’s Heart is its Nonfood Pantry, a space stocked with twenty-five specific items people use on a daily or weekly basis that are not covered by food stamps. Examples include personal care items like toothpaste, deodorant, toilet paper, shampoo and soap as well as cleaning products like laundry detergent, Lysol wipes and paper towels.
“As you scan this space, so many people are shocked,” says Rhodarmer. “What do you mean food stamps don’t purchase these items? Well, that’s correct, you cannot use your food stamp card to purchase toilet paper, mouthwash, toothpaste shampoo, soap – these vary basic items that we need. If someone is struggling with food, you know they’re struggling with these items as well. A family of four, they typically leave with a minimum of $172 in items because we give them a one month supply, and it’s based on the number of people who live in their home.”
In July of 2019, Servant’s Heart launched a Bill Pay Assistance program focused on assisting people with past due electric bills. “My secondary concern is the tremendous need that will surface when courts can evict and utilities can disconnect. The potential for families to become homeless will be great,” says Rhodarmer. “My hope is that the economy will rebound beyond expectation, that landlords will be gracious and monetary donations will allow Servant’s Heart to help clients through our BillPay assistance program. Imagine if 1000 people in our community committed $10 every month to this program. That would allow Servant’s Heart to give $10,000 a month in BillPay assistance, and that makes a huge difference for lots of people!”
It’s not clear exactly what life will look like in North Carolina as we begin the slow process of reopening and, eventually, settling into a new normal, but one thing that remains clear is that Servant’s Heart is here to help. If you need assistance, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Servant’s Heart also needs food and nonfood Pantry items to meet the demand during COVID 19. The list is on their website www.servantsheart.org under “donation” tab. Pantry donations can be dropped off every Thursday from 10:00 – 3:30.