On a cold December day, men, women and a few toddlers filtered into the dining room at Lebanon County Christian Ministries, pausing momentarily as a volunteer from Cornwall United Methodist Church said a prayer.
Among those in the crowd that day was Shane, a regular in the winter months, who grabbed a tray and was served lasagna, salad and a piece of apple pie by volunteers.
He sat down at a table as he greeted acquaintances and friends he’s made over the last five years and began eating.
As a seasonal worker, Shane collects unemployment over the winter months and is grateful for LCCM’s free noon meal, which helps him save money.
“It helps me a great deal because food is so expensive. I live alone, so for me, it works out. Last night I made hot dogs and mashed potatoes – something cheap. (The noon meal helps) because instead of buying two meals a day, I only have to buy one,” he said. “I mean, even buying cleaning supplies in stores like paper towers, Dawn and soap, and all that – it all adds up.”
Shane was just one of 119 people who ate at the free noon meal that day, a staple of LCCM’s operations and overall mission. Hundreds of volunteers from churches and community groups prepare and serve meals each year daily, whether at LCCM’s dining room or at other partnering churches.
In the last fiscal year, 47,180 meals were served, which equals roughly 130 meals daily. Some days, LCCM serves as many as 170 guests. It’s just one of several programs LCCM facilitates to address food insecurity in Lebanon County. Food insecurity describes a household’s inability to provide enough food for every person to live an active, healthy life.
The food insecurity rate in Lebanon County is 9.1 percent – that’s an estimated 12,480 people, according to Feeding America.
By making a $50 donation to LCCM, you can provide 25 nutritious meals for people like Shane this Christmas season.
37% of Lebanon County households can’t afford basic necessities. Your monthly donations to Lebanon County Christian Ministries are critical.
The holiday season is a time of giving, reflecting and renewal.
For many people it’s a time to be surrounded by family and friends in a warm home, giving and receiving gifts, feasting on delicious meals and giving to those who need it most.
And Lebanon County Christian Ministries is one of the local organizations that helps those who need it most.
Nearly 37% of households in Lebanon County lack the income to cover the costs of basic necessities such as food, housing, transportation and child care, according to the United Way of Pennsylvania.
The United Way calls them “ALICE” households — short for “Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed."
ALICE is a new way of defining and understanding the struggles of households that earn above the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to afford a bare-bones household budget, according to the United Way.
As the United Way explains, ALICE is your child care worker, the cashier at your grocery store, the retail employee at a big box store, a warehouse employee, waitress, home health aide, and so on.
While more than a third of households in Lebanon County struggle to afford basic necessities, 59% of households in Lebanon city are struggling to make ends meet – 37% of which fall into the ALICE category and 22% are living below the Federal Poverty Level.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in Lebanon County in September was just 3.5%.
Read about the Consequences of Insufficient Household Income
This means Lebanon County’s underpaid workforce – which is filling a critical need in our local economy – is struggling because the cost of living is outpacing what they earn, according to the United Way.
As the ALICE report puts it:
“Working families are still struggling due to the mismatch between the basic cost of living and the wages of many jobs across the state, exacerbated by systemic inequities in opportunity and wealth.”
By making an affordable, automatic tax-deductive gift each month, you can help Lebanon County Christian Ministries address the immediate needs of thousands of Lebanon County residents who are struggling to make ends meet.
And LCCM’s new Love Your Neighbor campaign allows you to do just that.
LCCM has a vision of creating a community of passionate, monthly givers who want to make a lasting commitment to provide emergency services to individuals and families in Lebanon County.
This mission includes providing food, shelter, clothing, heating and water bill assistance, the summer food program for children, sponsoring the daily free noon meal, and administering the USDA’s federal government surplus food program (TEFAP) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). As a monthly donor, you’ll know that your contributions are not passive donations. You are making a huge, local impact and providing lifechanging – and sometimes, lifesaving – assistance to Lebanon County individuals and families going through some of the toughest times in their lives.
"LCCM serves to provide the basic necessities. We are committed to support our community and rely on those who are able to give to support our organization. We do not take the responsibility of being good stewards of your financial resources you so willingly share with us lightly," said Bryan Smith, LCCM's executive director. "We also believe it is important to know that many individuals are one bad day away from going from donor to receiver of our services. We believe in God’s call for us to collaborate with many to support the individuals in need in our community. We believe in the need to hear everyone’s story and to ensure we meet those individuals where they are and to build them up to be self sustaining."
Read the ALICE report in its entirety
Written by Andrea Gillhoolley, Lebanon County Christian Ministries development manager. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you live or work in Lebanon County, chances are you may have heard of Lebanon County Christian Ministries (LCCM).
You may also know that the nonprofit is a provider of essential services such as food, clothing and shelter to individuals and families in need, and you may have even donated over the years.
But did you know that a network of dedicated volunteers is central to our operation? Or that we distributed 406,975 pounds of food in the last fiscal year?
We want to open to the lines of communication to you, the community, so that we can make Lebanon County a better place for its residents.
Without partnerships with passionate individuals, organizations and businesses, our small staff just simply couldn’t carry out its mission of serving the immediate felt needs of the community.
The services administered by LCCM’s employees and volunteers is a direct response to the issues afflicting a significant portion of Lebanon County’s residents, ranging from food insecurity to homelessness.
Here are 10 things you should know about LCCM:
1. Humble beginnings
LCCM began its history 37 years ago as a food pantry when area churches joined together in response to the Bethlehem Steel Plant closing. Many of the workers had worked at the plant through several generations and had no skills other than nut and bolt fabrication. They had a hard time finding jobs, which made it difficult to feed their families. Acknowledging the hardship, Christian churches joined together to provide the much-needed food.
2. LCCM isn't just a food bank
Today, LCCM is a multi-faceted organization. While food is still a main focus of the ministry, LCCM also provides shelter, clothing, sponsors the daily free noon meal, provides heating energy and water bill assistance, the summer food program for children, administers the USDA's federal government surplus food program (TEFAP) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).
3. LCCM provides tons of food - literally
LCCM serves as the food and clothing bank for Lebanon County. Eligibility for food and/or clothing is based on need, not income. An interview with the family or individual is used to determine the need as well as determining if other services or referrals to other agencies could be provided. Eligible families or individuals can then receive a 7-to- 10-day supply of food. In fiscal year 2018-19, total pounds of food distributed in all of LCCM’s programs equaled 406,975 pounds!
4. Volunteers walk along side of guests who need clothing
Speaking of clothing, a dedicated group of volunteers sort, pair, fold, hang and prepare clothing items for display in the clothing bank. Once an individual has been approved for clothing support, a volunteer walks along side of the individual and they shop for their needs. In 2018-19, LCCM provided an astounding 20,049 items to individuals in need. LCCM served 1,015 adults, 699 children and 862 families. We are currently taking winter clothing donations. Here are our current needs.
5. We serve an average of 130 meals a day
A hot lunch is served every day from noon to 1 p.m. at city churches or at LCCM by volunteers and is available to anyone who needs a lunch. There are no appointments, interviews or any other qualifications required. Anyone who needs a lunch may partake of the meal. In fiscal year 2018-19, 47,180 meals were served – that’s an average of 130 meals served daily. Over the next year, LCCM is working to connect community organizations to the free noon meal guests so they can become aware of services available in the community.
6. We host an average of 15 guests per night in our shelter
For years, Lebanon County lacked an emergency shelter with the capacity to accept families or individuals facing an immediate housing crisis. In 2012, that need was addressed. Today, the FRESH Start Emergency Shelter and Resource Center serves an average of 15 guests per night. The resource center is located at LCCM’s 250 S. 7th St. location in Lebanon where guests can prepare meals, do laundry, take showers and list as a reference when looking for work or housing. LCCM relies on partner churches and volunteers to house guests overnight throughout the year. In fiscal year 2018-19, we provided 5,555 nights of stay, hosted an average of 15 guests per night, and 130 guests were discharged to housing. Over the last seven years of operation, we found that children generally make up one-half of the individuals served by FRESH Start.
Volunteer Rick Kindt will work 8 am to 1 pm each Wednesday during TEFAP distribution. Kindt has volunteered for LCCM for 4 years, and particularly the TEFAP program, during the last year and a half. It’s a good fit, he said, noting that he worked in the grocery business for years. “When I first came in here I started bagging and Scott (operations manager) said ‘Hey, you’re pretty fast,’” he said. “ I said ‘yeah, I had a lot of experience.”
7. 23,000 recipients of TEFAP pick up bags of groceries at LCCM
As Feeding America describe it, the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a means-tested federal government program that provides food commodities at no cost to Americans in need of short-term hunger relief through food providers like emergency food pantries, food banks, soup kitchens and shelters. LCCM is a major distribution site for TEFAP. A free bag of food is distributed to eligible households one time per month. Community members who earn 150% of the poverty guideline complete a self-declaration form and are provided with food to help address food insecurity. Food is provided each Wednesday from about 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (excluding the 5th Wednesday). This program is supported by numerous volunteers who, in the last fiscal year, served 23,125 recipients. Of those recipients, 31% were children, 20% were elderly and 9% were homebound individuals. LCCM isn’t the only distribution site in the county. Others include: Caring Cupboard in Palmyra, Trinity United Methodist Church in Lickdale and St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Schaefferstown.
8. More than 32,000 volunteer hours make LCCM possible
Volunteers are central to Lebanon County Christian Ministries. Without them, we just simply couldn’t carry out day-to-day operations to assist thousands of people each year. Over 32,000 hours are logged in by our 130-plus volunteers each year. The network, however, is much larger than that – we estimate about 400 total volunteers who help during events and at free noon meals.
9. All about the kids
Because a high percentage of students in the Lebanon School District qualify for the government's reduced-cost or free lunch program, the school made the program available to all students throughout the school year. But what do those students do for a lunch-time meal over the summer months, when school is not in session, and a lot of their parents are working? Attend the LCCM Summer Food Service Program, of course. LCCM provides free meals to children, ages 18 and under, throughout the summer months.
10. We can't do all of this without you
LCCM makes every effort to align our resources with the needs of the community. Our resources, however, involve an expense and our biggest need from the community is financial resources to execute programs and services. If it was not for the generosity of our delegates, board of directors, volunteers, donors and community at large, we would not be able to serve the thousands of people who need it most. If you have a passion for what we do and feel led to partner with LCCM to address the needs of the Lebanon County community, please consider becoming a monthly donor, volunteering or donating goods, or communicating your vision and creative solutions to the issues our neighbors face in Lebanon County. Together, we can meet people’s most basic needs, and empower their own personal sustainability. The effects of giving someone a hand up will have a ripple effect that will make Lebanon County a better place for all of us to live, work and play.
Lebanon County Christian Ministries is blessed to have the support of many churches throughout Lebanon County that host FRESH Start guests overnight in their facilities.
In fiscal year 2018-19, LCCM's shelter provided 5,555 nights of stay, hosted an average of 15 guests per night and 130 guests were discharged to housing.
In 2020, we have several opportunities available for churches and volunteers to provide overnight shelter to our guests.
How 60 days at the Lebanon County Christian Ministries emergency shelter helped one man save money, secure a full-time job
Here's how it works:
A network of churches rotate as hosts for the overnight shelter every two weeks throughout the year.
Guests arrive at the church in the evening and leave early morning.
Churches have a dedicated group of volunteers who help during those two weeks and spend every night at the church with our shelter guests. However, we do know that while churches may want to serve as a host site, they may not necessarily have volunteers. We also know that volunteers, whether individuals or groups, may want to serve, but may not belong to a church.
We want to work together with the community to provide these opportunities so we can serve the needs of our guests who need a safe place to sleep each night.
If you or a group of volunteers are interested in this unique volunteer opportunity, please contact Andrea Gillhoolley at (717)272 4400 ext. 211. Volunteers will also have to apply here.
If churches would like to serve as a host site, contact Lesvi Marrero, supportive services coordinator, at Lesvi@lccm.us.
If your church is interested in hosting FRESH Start, here are the available dates in 2020:
Feb. 24-March 9
March 9-March 23
May 4-May 18
June 1-June 15
Sept. 7- Sept. 21
About FRESH Start
The FRESH Start Emergency Shelter and Resource Center provides homeless families and individuals the resources and training needed to empower personal sustainability while providing a safe place to sleep and be protected from outside elements.
The resource center serves as "home-base" for its guests. It is where guests can prepare and cook meals, take showers, wash clothes, and receive the support and training needed to regain independence.
Churches and other facilities throughout Lebanon County provide overnight shelter.
All referrals should be made by calling 717-272-4400.
Any family or individual facing an immediate housing crisis is encouraged to call 717-272-4400 or visit FRESH Start (250 S. 7th Street, Lebanon) to inquire about services.
How 60 days at the Lebanon County Christian Ministries emergency shelter helped one man save money, secure a full-time job
When Jesse spoke at a United Way event recently, he fought back tears as he spoke about the impact Lebanon County Christian Ministries (LCCM) has had on his life over two difficult months.
“It’s just been eye opening to see the services they provide to the community,” the 27-year-old man said after reflecting on his time at FRESH Start, LCCM’s homeless shelter and resource center.
“You’ll see the lunch lines, the food banks, the clothing,” he said. “I haven’t seen a place like this before.”
Originally from Florida, Jesse moved to Pennsylvania 6 years ago after struggling with drugs.
“I came up here and decided at the age of 20 that the road I was headed down wasn’t the one I wanted to continue down,” he said.
He packed his bags, moved in with his father and was determined to make changes in his life. He later started a family in Perry County, complete with a 2-bedroom apartment, two vehicles and bills that were, for the most part, paid on time.
Financial and personal difficulties loomed, however, and Jesse could no longer live in the apartment he shared with his family.
At the same time his father began experiencing health issues, and Jesse found himself caring for him.
After several months, he wanted to move closer to his children, but had no place to live. He toyed with the idea of living in a tent at a campground, but instead Googled “homeless shelters” and wound up at two shelters before coming to LCCM.
When Jesse arrived at LCCM he found a compassionate staff who connected him to resources so he could save money and get back on his feet.
Besides food, clothing and shelter, LCCM provided the resources to help Jesse get a bicycle so he could commute to a job in Lebanon city, but they also provided something else – accountability.
“They just sat me down and were understanding, but at the same time they were stern,” he said. “Here, you have to do chores, you have to be looking for a job, or housing, it was unique.”
In mid-October, Jesse was able to leave FRESH Start when he secured a full-time job that could be a gamechanger for him and his family and an apartment.
“A lot of us (who come through LCCM) can’t save up a whole lot of money or don’t have $2,000 to $3,000 in the bank to just move in somewhere else,” he said. “So, the services they provide here give you that opportunity.”
Written by Andrea Gillhoolley, development manager, Lebanon County Christian Ministries. Contact her at email@example.com or call (717) 272 4400 ext. 211 to find out how you can become a supporter of LCCM to help change lives in Lebanon County.
Lebanon County Christian Ministries is looking for a client services assistant to work at the FRESH Start Emergency Shelter and Resource Center.
The ideal candidate will have a servant’s heart in addition to knowledge of regional resources such as government, churches and other human service agencies.
The candidate should also have a good working knowledge of various computer software programs such as Word and Excel, the ability to organize and prioritize unplanned tasks and the ability to supervise volunteers. Bilingual is a plus!
You can view the full job description below.
If interested, send resumes to Bryan Smith at Bryan@lccm.us or mail it to Lebanon County Christian Ministries, 250 S. 7th St., Lebanon, PA 17042.