December 12, 2017

Doorways Food Pantry is a welcoming place

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The Doorways Food Pantry in Seekonk provides food support to Seekonk residents who are facing very challenging times in their lives. Over 90 local families are on our client list: many are seniors who struggle to survive on a fixed income; others are disabled or have suffered catastrophic illnesses; still others are young families trying to survive a job loss. Regardless of their circumstances, they have a friend at Doorways. There are only two conditions; first, all clients must be Seekonk residents. Second, clients must be pre-qualified by Seekonk Human Services to ensure that they conform to income guidelines.
There is no charge to our clients. Other than that, Doorways is like shopping in a store. The food is not pre-bagged; it is displayed on shelves for clients to pick favorite foods and choose preferred brands. Clients push a shopping cart as they browse the shelves and make selections within different food groups; they are paired with a volunteer who bags their groceries as they go. Doorways is an intensely social experience, for both clients and volunteers - they converse as they shop together, forging a warm bond. Most weeks there are a dozen eggs and some cheese. Often there is fresh produce. A local store donates their "day old" bread. And Doorways is able to purchase cuts of meat or whole frozen chickens from the Boston Food Bank - always a big hit!
"Dear Staff at Doorways - I have needed this service for a short time and when I first entered the door I was very nervous and apprehensive, but that soon ended when you see and experience the kindness and giving spirit of all who volunteer and organize this facility. I've met members of people from all walks of life with many sad problems and if it weren't for Doorways they would be very lost with the basic necessities of life. The people of Doorways range from young to old but they share one thing in common. They are kind, always smiling, never make anyone feel insecure. I would personally like to thank them for helping my family at a difficult time in our lives. I was thinking the first day I entered Doorways, it is so nice to meet people that are still giving and kind.
Sincerely, The ---------- Family" (letter from a former Doorways client.)
Doorways was established in November of 2001 as a faith-based charity. The founders had approached Seekonk Human Services and asked what was needed. At the time, the only food support in town consisted of a few bags of groceries in a closet in Human Services. So they opened a food pantry, and the first week they served seven families. They continued to serve and to grow; last November, Doorways celebrated its tenth anniversary. This past May Doorways gave away its millionth pound of food. Doorways was recently recognized by the Boston Food Bank as one of the best-run food pantries in the state. And each and every week, over 150 people are fed through the Doorways Food Pantry.
They rely on Doorways, and Doorways relies on you, the people of Seekonk who support Doorways with donations of time, and food, and dollars. Under the leadership of David Francis and Doug Hayward, Doorways is staffed entirely by volunteers; it operates with an eight member Board of Directors and roughly one hundred and fifty adults who volunteer their time on a rotating schedule. Last year, more than three hundred households and small businesses made monetary donations in support of our mission. The Seekonk Post Office conducts a food drive in the spring, and the Boy Scouts conduct another food drive in the fall. The Boy Scouts also deliver groceries every week to Doorways clients who are housebound. The Girl Scouts conduct a variety of food drives throughout the year and conduct a massive toy drive at Christmas to service the young families on our client list.
And more yet. The Seekonk Public Library has set up a public drop-off point for food donations. Local churches chip in with gifts of food and money, and each of the Seekonk schools collect canned goods to support the food pantry. The students of the South Coast Educational Collaborative collect donations from the field and deliver them to Doorways. Signature Printing has prepared the annual mailing for Doorways on a pro bono basis for many years. And the Newman Ave Stop & Shop has placed a donation bin at the exit to their store, soliciting donations for Doorways. We are humbled by the community support that we receive, and deeply grateful.
"Working at Doorways has been an extraordinary experience for me. Our clients are warm and lovely people, and after a while you get to know them and care about them as individuals. As a volunteer, you really feel as if your efforts are worth something. All I know is, every time I work at Doorways, that is the best part of my day."
(quote from a Doorways volunteer)
Doorways is located in the North School building off Route 152 and is open every Saturday from 8 to 10 am. New clients are reminded to pre-register with Seekonk Human Services, located inside Pleasant Street School.
How can you help? Donations are needed year round. Food donations can be dropped off at the Seekonk Public Library. Monetary donations can be mailed to Doorways, Inc., PO Box 295, Seekonk MA 02771. And those interested in volunteering at Doorways can call (508) 761-6380 to find out more.
Together, we have fed many and done much. And yet the need continues, and grows.

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