PROGRESS THROUGH PARTNERSHIPS
Building Bridges, Not Silos
You’ve seen those towering structures next to barns. Silos aren't merely a means of storage. When they're filled they represent the successful harvest of the season’s crops and stand tall as a testament to the farmer’s skill and hard work.
Unfortunately another kind of silo exists. The term "building silos" is used to describe how an individual or group makes a determination to plow ahead toward their objective without wanting to coordinate their efforts with others, the opposite of collaboration.
We don't build silos. There are close to 50 other food pantries in our local area, and we're not trying to be
"territorial" or in any sort of competition. Most of these pantries work in partnership with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and we work cooperatively with others to see a better result.
As an example, this recent delivery of bread was far more than we needed, so Lynchburg Daily Bread picked up the excess. It was the same scenario when we recently took delivery of nine (yes, nine) pallets of ground beef! On another occasion LDB received ten bags of personal care items, something for which they don't normally receive requests. But they knew we do, and we gladly accepted them. We receive many clothing donations and frequently hear of a need that we can fill by sharing with others like Miriam’s House, Roads to Recovery, and even CVCC. We love giving resources, as well as receiving them, so they get to where they're needed.
Sharing is a big part of our Community Resource Center. Beyond offering advice and assistance to individuals in navigating agency regulations, the CRC freely shares with other organizations to find answers. Recently we hosted tours and explained our mission to social workers from the City of Lynchburg, Lynchburg City Schools, and Bedford County Social Services. The city's Human Services Department operates a mini-pantry to which we periodically contribute, which helps those whose benefits have not yet started or were not approved, and those unable to visit a nearby pantry.
Building bridges is the perfect way to describe our partnership with the city of Lynchburg, where we have been part of the Bridges to Progress initiative since its founding. The “Home Essentials” and “Getting Ahead” classes taught at our Life Skills Institute are funded by the city, and “Getting Ahead” is taught by two city staffers.
The Bridges to Progress task force is hoping City Council will approve funding for foldable shopping carts for low-income citizens who frequent pantries like ours. The carts, which can hold 200 pounds, would help recipients bring their groceries onto city buses. Also requested is funding to train volunteers as mentors to “Getting Ahead” class members for up to a year, and connecting them with employment services.
There is no better living example of our partnership with the city than the Mayor herself, Treney Tweedy. Along with three Park View staffers, she personally knocked on doors at a large public housing project recently to invite residents to attend our “Home Essentials” class. This class was begun to answer a critical need for tenants to learn basic housekeeping and self-care skills to avoid eviction. In fact, the Salvation Army requires all Angel Tree recipients to take such a class before they are deemed eligible.
One other partnership is vitally important, where we are called on to be an extension of local church ministry. Several churches have begun to support us monthly since they decided that their efforts in a certain area of service would be more effective if they directed support to Park View rather than attempting to continue on their own.
We firmly believe in giving. It's what we do because of those who give to us, and we do it best when we do it in collaboration with others. It's a lot like that old expression that farmers know so well,
"It's what you sow that multiplies, not what you keep in a silo."