Dear PORCH Community,

When trouble hits, we pull together. It’s one of the things you can count on in our community. We have gotten so many offers of help to mitigate the effects of Coronavirus crisis, we wanted to have a central location where you can find information on how best to contribute at this time:

CASH DONATIONS

PORCH is actively serving families with children in our community. Over 460 families enrolled in our Food for Families program are receiving $50 Food Lion gift cards this week.  To support this effort, please make an online donation here. PORCH leaders and volunteers are also working directly with the local schools to help distribute free meals during the school closures. This week, PORCH volunteers are staffing five sites distributing grab-n-go lunches with snacks to hundreds of local families.

In addition, PORCH is providing hundreds of $25 Food Lion gift cards to each of the food pantries listed below, who are working on the front lines of hunger relief during the Coronavirus crisis. To contribute toward this effort, make an online donation here.

NONPERISHABLE FOOD DONATIONS

While PORCH is serving families with children in our community, the following food pantries can use your help providing for others in need.  If you are out grocery shopping, please consider picking up an extra bag of food and delivering it directly to:

Hillsborough Commons
113 Mayo Street, Hillsborough
Phone: 919-245-2800
Hours Open: 8 am to 5 pm

Interfaith Council for Social Service (IFC)
100 W. Rosemary Street, Chapel Hill
Hours Open: 9 am-5 pm

Note: Donors should ring the doorbell at the basement door, and someone will come down to get the food.  You can also try to call when you are near IFC (919-929-6380, press 0). IFC staff or volunteers will do their best to meet you outside. Any type of canned meat is a priority need, but they will put it all to good use!

Orange Congregations In Mission (OCIM)
300 Millstone Drive, Hillsborough
Hours Open: 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.

Note: Any change in schedule will be noted on voicemail at (919) 732-6194, ext. 12.

Rogers Road Community Center 
101 Edgar Street, Chapel Hill
Hours Open: 10 am to 3 pm on Monday through Friday, 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday.

Southern Human Services Center  
2501 Homestead Road, Chapel Hill
Phone: 919-245-2800
Hours Open: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Thank you again for such an outpouring of support during this trying time.  We will continue to keep you updated on PORCH’s efforts to support our hunger relief infrastructure and strengthen the safety net for neighbors who are most vulnerable during the Coronavirus crisis.

– The PORCH Team

/* Custom Archives Functions Go Below this line */ /* Custom Archives Functions Go Above this line */

Laura Malinchock, Master of Logistics:

Drivers Needed!

Laura Malinchock and her son were rummaging through the garage one day, when he picked up a discarded backpack.  “My friend at school doesn’t have one,” he said.  “We should give it to him.”

It was a wake-up call for Laura, who had moved with her family from Yardley, a suburban town in Pennsylvania, where families, as far they knew, had everything they needed.  Proud of her son for realizing that there were children who weren’t equipped even basically for school, she began to view her new community differently.

“In Yardley,” she tells me, “I’d volunteered in my children’s school, but we were kind of in a bubble.  Across the river was Trenton, New Jersey, and we never really considered the far greater needs of families there.”

Laura grew up in a military family, so she was used to being moved around quite a bit.  But her grandfather was from Wilmington, North Carolina, where she still has relatives, and part of her heritage is the tradition of crossing community lines. 

(more…) /* Custom Archives Functions Go Below this line */ /* Custom Archives Functions Go Above this line */

Gary Richards, Man with a Mission


Gary Richards and Karen Rodin letting us know how our voices can be heard.

Gary Richards tells me he is writing a novel about some escapades among people who influenced the Civil War. He began it about ten years ago, researching it thoroughly and thinking about it ever since.  “But,” he warns me, “you can’t reveal the plot.”  I promise, so you will not hear about the exciting, action-packed adventure here.  You will have to wait for the book.  Or the movie.

We meet at the political advocacy table outside the PORCH sort on Monday, where he has been filling in for Kathleen Shapley-Quinn.  He’s the PORCH neighborhood coordinator for the Greenbridge Condominiums between Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and has been since he and his wife Geraldine, who is the president of Chapel Hill NOW, moved from Oswego, New York five years ago.  At first, they came south for half a year (they have children and grandchildren hereabouts), then decided that shoveling snow all winter was something he could do without.  He’s retired from professional work now, but not from advocacy…he fills his days with it, and we are the better for his energy.

In Oswego, he had been cooking for the soup kitchen, so he began volunteering at TABLE, then coming to PORCH, which he likes for its dedicated and nearly entirely volunteer engine.  “Those three ladies [Christine, Debbie and Susan] are my heroes!” he says.  “I’d nominate them for the Peace Prize if I could.”

His activism began early in his college days at Buffalo.  “I’d see posters for films on the NLF [National Liberation Front], mistakenly assuming they were about the NFL,” he laughs.  It was the Vietnam era, so the transposition of initials made quite a difference, as he soon found out.  “Hey, I thought.  Here I am a middle-class white guy.  What does all this mean to me?”  It was an awakening to the many injustices in the country and world that led him to declare himself a pacifist.

(more…) /* Custom Archives Functions Go Below this line */ /* Custom Archives Functions Go Above this line */

An Advocate for Life

Kathleen Shapley-Quinn became dedicated to fighting hunger when, in high school, she discovered the movement called “Bread for the World”, which is invested in hunger relief advocacy.  She has worked since then for that cause in all sorts of ways.  Here at PORCH, her advocacy is invaluable. 

What does she do?  She brings stamps, postcards, lists of immediate problems that our political representatives, state and local, need to address now, and sits us down between bagging and carrying to write to those who can, and should, implement change for the better.  She keeps her eye on emerging problems in the national and state sphere and listens as others bring her their concerns.

Kathleen came to PORCH with the idea of a double advocacy…not only feeding the hungry through our all-volunteer, neighborhood food gathering, but also to take advantage of sort-time to send those messages to those who can bring change not only locally, but to everyone in need. 

She gives me a broad smile when she says, “And the PORCH board listened and said yes!”  It seemed natural to work for those issues, too, since hunger is always driven by other needs.

(more…) /* Custom Archives Functions Go Below this line */ /* Custom Archives Functions Go Above this line */

PORCH Is All about People

Story by Rachel Mills

Martha Rigling was about to turn 80, when a friend, Ginny D’ercole, brought her along five years ago to volunteer at PORCH.  The PORCH folks thought that was marvelous, and threw her a birthday party.

Martha and her husband Richard, a school superintendent, had retired to Chapel Hill because, like many, they were looking for a warmer climate, and Florida, where they first thought to go, “just didn’t seem right,” Martha remembers.  When her daughter, already living and working hereabouts, suggested they come to Chapel Hill, they found it perfect. “We love it here,” she says.  

It wasn’t long before she began to look around for opportunities to meet people.  A book group, a monthly neighborhood gathering for “empty nesters”, and other activities keep her in good company, but PORCH is, she insists, the best of all.  

“I can’t wait for that second Monday and Wednesday each month. The work PORCH does is amazing,” she says, “and so well run.  It’s like everyone just comes in and knows where to be and what to do, and they do it.” 

“Plus,” she adds, “I meet so many nice people each time…this month, I met a new volunteer and now…” she grins, “I’ve met you, too!”

(more…) /* Custom Archives Functions Go Below this line */ /* Custom Archives Functions Go Above this line */

Great Partnerships Start Here…

Story written by Rachel Mills

Symoni Patel is one of PORCH’s most enthusiastic volunteers, and also one of its most active ones.  She will tell you with a big smile, “I like to help!”

symoni patel at PORCH.jpg

Symoni came to PORCH with her The Arc of the Triangle guide about two years ago through a volunteer outreach program that The Arc of the Triangle supports.  She had already acquired some important skills while she worked at the Meadowmont Harris Teeter bagging, helping to carry, and shelving.  At each PORCH sort, you can find her ably unpacking and sorting donated bags that come in from neighborhood porches like yours, so that the third shift can begin with full stacks of non-perishables, which are bagged up again, ready to be distributed to the schools and organizations PORCH supports.  Watching Symoni, you have no doubt that she knows the whole drill.

(more…) /* Custom Archives Functions Go Below this line */ /* Custom Archives Functions Go Above this line */

Waiting At the Curb, A Cheerful Welcome to Porch

Steve Mackey and “Brook” Brookhart followed pretty much the same path to PORCH.  Steve begins, “When my wife, Patty Smith, and I moved here in 2013 from Birmingham, she began looking for volunteer opportunities and found PORCH.  She became coordinator for our neighborhood, Colony Woods, and I came along to see what it was about and stayed to help.”  Steve, a retired rehabilitation counselor for the Veterans Administration, and Patty had spent a year or so working for Meals on Wheels, picking up and bagging bread and bagel donations from a bakery, so they were seasoned food sorters when they joined us.

(more…) /* Custom Archives Functions Go Below this line */ /* Custom Archives Functions Go Above this line */

Untitled_4

/* Custom Archives Functions Go Below this line */ /* Custom Archives Functions Go Above this line */

Rosie Caldwell, Rogers Road Community Center

At the Rogers Road Community Center, the Sheriff’s Office was setting up its tent, unwinding some electrical equipment, and putting out a popcorn machine in the concrete drive in front. The Center sits square in the midst of three or four small connected roads of brick ranches, singlewides, and, along the farthest street, a row of newer cottages.  Together they have been known, for who knows how many decades, as the Rogers Road Neighborhood.  Around them, here and there a forgotten animal shed lingers under overgrown trees, a reminder of the neighborhood’s roots.  It’s a close-knit community of people who care for one another.  That’s where the Rogers Road Community Center comes in, the place where care is central to everybody, and that’s where Rosie Caldwell, who directs it, is central to it all.

(more…) /* Custom Archives Functions Go Below this line */ /* Custom Archives Functions Go Above this line */

A NEW GENERATION OF PORCH LEADERS

Each month at the PORCH sort, we who can volunteer to show up at the gathering and distributions sites around the city to handle the many tasks of helping get food to people in need.  Most have been volunteering faithfully for PORCH for a long time; many are stalwart PORCH collectors in their neighborhoods.  New volunteers are welcomed each time, brought in by the enthusiasm of their neighbors.  Behind the scenes, as well, are volunteers we don’t often see, except in the summer months when school is out and young people from all over the area come to the sorts.

Did you know that there is a recognized school activity for high school students called PORCH Club?  Though it has a faculty sponsor, it’s organized by students, planned and coordinated by students, and full of the energy that the young have when there is a social problem to be solved.  PORCH is lucky to have them.

Norman Xie, a rising senior at East Chapel Hill High School, thought it would be interesting to see what PORCH was about.  He’d worked some for another nutrition program in Carrboro, so he already had an idea of the need for supporting families that aren’t as fortunate.  He grew up in Chapel Hill, and bikes everywhere.  Still, PORCH has managed to teach him a lot about its different communities and how he can connect with them.  “You know?” he says, “here I feel like I’m helping people [he hesitates a minute finding the right words]… and that, that gives meaning to what I’m doing.”  Clearly, Norman is a young man who knows inherently what matters.

Meanwhile, he’s applying for colleges (he is hoping to find himself at UNC-Chapel Hill, studying biology for medical school later on) and going on with his own activities, like ultimate Frisbee.  “I play the piano, too,” he mentions, explaining that he is not only taking lessons but playing in venues once in a while.  There isn’t yet a PORCH club at his school, so he wants to get one started this year.

Enter Sydney Runkle, from Chapel Hill High School, who began her PORCH activities as a freshman (she’s a rising junior now).  “I was looking for volunteer opportunities,” she says, especially in what she calls “human security”.  Wow.  That’s quite an insightful way of expressing what a good community affords all its people:  a safe place to live, food for nourishment, education, work, shared resources.  PORCH appeared quickly in her view. 

As a sophomore, she became the coordinator of PORCH Club at CHHS.  There are about 50 students involved, she counts, and about 20 consistent participants, which she’s hoping this year to raise to the whole 50.  Sydney, you can tell, has the kind of organization skills in her blood that the founders of PORCH run in theirs.  The club gets together every few weeks for a lunchtime meeting, where she introduces PORCH, runs through logistics for the next events, gathers ideas, and signs up new members.  Activities are as much fun as they are helpful:  between sort months, they make cheerful holiday cards to tuck into the bags of nonperishable food, bake cookies to distribute to kids in the schools…. “It meant a lot to me to be able to distribute them myself this time”…and participate in the snack drive for children. 

This year, she has plans to get the club started on letter-writing campaigns to city, state and national official urging them to recognize the issues of hunger and security, locally and nationally.

So, what is the appeal of PORCH club to students?  Sydney thinks that helping hunger relief among the people who live around you is the main draw.  She recruits volunteers from friends, parents, and friends of friends.  Some students join for volunteer credits, but very soon they see the importance of what they are doing.  It’s not difficult to see that Sydney is a leader in the best sense of the word.  She never forgets the needs of the people she is working for, and she sees the possibilities in others to make solutions possible.  Those values are evident when she speaks about what motivates her.

PORCH, she says, has taught her about community.  “Those days I get to help PORCH are my favorite times of the month.  Everyone is so welcoming, everyone works together so well.  Most of all, it’s eye-opening…enlightening…to know there is a real way you can help people.”

It’s a message both Norman and Sydney hope their elders among us will spread to their children and grandchildren, by word and example.  It’s already obvious, though, that PORCH’s future is in good hands.

                                                                                                Rachel Victoria Mills

/* Custom Archives Functions Go Below this line */ /* Custom Archives Functions Go Above this line */