A message from Marsha Eichelberger, our Executive Director:
When I wrote this message for our 2019 annual impact report, I never could have imagined what 2020 had in store for us. This past year has reaffirmed the strength and resilience of our staff, volunteers, donors, and the families we serve.
The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented challenges for both our organization and for families in Montgomery County. We could no longer take for granted that children would be able to attend school every day, or that our staff and volunteers would feel safe when interacting with each other. Everything we had worked toward and planned for suddenly seemed irrelevant as we faced serious health concerns, increased economic strain, and a great deal of uncertainty.
Together, we rose to this challenge as we enhanced our food cupboard and housing programs to safely continue our operations. The generosity of many individuals, congregations, and businesses in our community made this possible. This generosity was highlighted through our #COVIDKindness campaign, which shared stories of the many people and organizations that reached out to offer assistance during a time when many remained focused on their own well-being. Our volunteers and donors have continued to amaze us during this most difficult year.
With your support and active involvement, we were able to distribute nearly 185,000 pounds of food this year–an 84% increase since the previous year. We provided more than 2,500 nights of shelter through the Inter-Faith Hospitality Network. More than 1,100 volunteers contributed nearly 16,000 hours of their time to Inter-Faith–that’s almost two years, 24 hours a day, seven days a week!
With volunteer and donor support, we modified our programs to meet the needs of families in Montgomery County. We strengthened academic support for children in our housing programs as they adapted to virtual learning. Our team changed the way that food is distributed at the Inter-Faith Food Cupboard so that participants could safely access enough nutritious food. Our Inter-Faith Hospitality Network model was redesigned to ensure that families and volunteers are able to safety participate.
Inter-Faith also recommitted as an organization to racial equity in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others. These events illuminated the persistence of prejudice, bias, and discrimination but also the multiple ways that we can come together as a community to imagine and create a better reality for everyone.
What will the next year bring? I can’t tell you for sure. But what I do know is that whatever comes our way, we will be able to get through it together, as a community.