In March, 2010, our 18-month old Social Services Department was decimated by four feet of floodwater which destroyed tens of thousands of dollars in diapers, baby food, computers, office equipment and furniture. Thousands of client files were ruined. The water missed coming in to our food pantry by mere inches, but we lost all our refrigerated food due to the lack of electricity. While we cleaned up and dried out, we reached out to help neighbors in dire need. We served as the hub for our community in recovery, assisting hundreds who had lost so much. And the Town came together—as it always does—and gave. And gave some more. Local filmmaker Chris Walsh chronicled the regional disaster in his documentary Hometown Flood, with proceeds benefiting the Flood Relief Fund at the Center. The Jonnycake Center of Westerly—and the community—recovered, and grew stronger.
This past year has been challenging for the Center as the number of people asking for food and financial assistance continues to grow. On average we are providing food assistance to 150 people more each month than a year ago – and it comes at a time when some folks who had been donors are now seeking assistance, and as corporate donations and federal allocations have decreased. Somehow, with the help of a generous community, there is always enough food to serve all who come to us – even as food seems to fly off the shelves.