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Dear PORCH Community,

We wanted to reach out to affirm our solidarity as a community, and to express our shared anguish over the horrific killing of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks and too many others, as well as the much longer history of racial injustice in our country.

The devastating effects of systemic racism are reflected all around us. The disparity between our black and brown brothers and sisters and our white ones is stark – in income and employment figures, access to quality education, provision of healthcare, access to healthy food, as well as how communities are policed.

We at PORCH stand with all people of conscience against racism. We believe that our entire community is diminished when any one of us is treated as “less than” because of the color of their skin. And we believe it is our responsibility to bear witness to, and work to put a stop to racist actions and systems, no matter who is perpetrating them.

It is time to reflect on how we all might better listen and take effective action in our own communities, organizations, and businesses. PORCH is committed to:

  • Continuing our efforts to diversify the voices on our Board, staff, and volunteer corps
  • Engaging more deeply with our clients and all stakeholders to listen and ensure we are hearing and addressing their needs
  • Advocating for policies righting the systemic wrongs that perpetuate the inequities that are sources of hunger and food insecurity

PORCH was founded on the idea of neighbors helping neighbors, regardless of race, or religion, or age, or gender, or any other way some would choose to divide us. We are committed to working toward a just and compassionate world, where the principle that all people are created equal is not simply an ideal, but a lived reality.

With love, determination, and solidarity, The PORCH Team

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New PORCH Partnership to Keep our Community Fed

Just over a month ago Jennifer Woods, Outreach Coordinator for the Durham Branch of the Foodbank of Eastern and Central North Carolina, realized that she had a problem. Traditional weekly food distributions at Public Housing sites in Chapel Hill were going to be impossible to continue with all of the COVID-19 restrictions being put into place.  Without those weekly food distributions, a lot of people in Chapel Hill would be going hungry.

Unwilling to let that happen, Jennifer reached out to Faith Brodie, Public Housing Director for the Town of Chapel Hill and asked her “what do you think the possibility is of us still having the distributions but having them as drive-through distributions where people could come have a box of food placed in their trunk?” Brodie thought the idea was a good one, but the logistics of setting up and staffing a drive-through delivery system had to be worked through.  Enter PORCH. 

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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

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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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.

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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.

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