Posts filed under: In the News

WORKING TOGETHER

Our community has stepped up big time to offer food resources to those in need. To harness the power of this collective action and to stretch the food resources beyond the initial crisis, we have agreed to coordinate the food insecurity resources in our area. Having a single point of contact will lessen duplication of service and will allow resources to stretch further. A single contact will also spread the services to be available over many days rather than all at once. If you are a business, organization or individual community member that is considering offering a community meal, food collection or other food related efforts, please consider contacting us at communications@pottstowncluster.org


OUR COVID-19 CRISIS RESPONSE

We are committed to providing food security and housing stability to our at-risk neighbors and families experiencing lost wages and layoffs. As unemployment increases at a record-setting pace, we are seeing an uptick in the number of people and families who need our services. The help and support from our dedicated employees, volunteers, board, donors, delegates, and community have allowed us to:

  • Continue to keep our public community food pantry open and operating as safely as possible during this challenging time.
  • Support and protect our most vulnerable by delivering food to older adults and high-risk individuals so they can remain safe in their homes.
  • Respond to increased community need by supporting the local school food distributions with extra food for households in need
  • Work with partners to coordinate food security efforts throughout the Pottstown area and provide families with additional food resources. Stabilize vulnerable families and prevent homelessness by offering eviction prevention and social service supports through our Pottstown Housing Resource Center (HRC).

 

OUR #COVIDCaringPottstown Community Makes Our Work Possible

Many have been reaching out to support our mission as we work to provide food security and housing stability to our at-risk neighbors and families in need during this critical time. The desire to help is an important reminder of the power of community and the fact that working together is our community strength in Pottstown.

As we recognize those who are helping others and working to keep us all healthy and safe, we ask that you also join us in recognizing your neighbors, coworkers, friends, and family members who are doing great things for others by using #COVIDCaringPottstown on your social media posts. We will be doing the same to keep you updated on the many acts of kindness we are receiving! Read more about are some of the acts of kindness we have received over the past few weeks here: OUR #COVIDCaringPottstown Community.

 

VOLUNTEER

Anyone who is interested in volunteering to support the Pottstown Cluster Outreach Center operations or Community Meals efforts can email volunteer@pottstowncluster.org.

 

GIVING

A secure online contribution HERE will help us respond to the increasing demand for our services due to the COVID-19 crisis. Your support today and will ensure we can meet the growing needs of our community both today and tomorrow.

 

THE 10TH ANNUAL SIGNATURE PAGE SHOWCASE OF SUPPORT
Please join us in publicly thanking those who have continued serving the community at the most important of times. This year’s page promises to be something very special. While the page is always a demonstration of your commitment to ending hunger in our community, this year’s page will offer an opportunity to thank our volunteers, employees, and local heroes who have been supporting the Pottstown Cluster’s response to COVID-19. Learn more or donate to sign here: 2020 SIGNATURE PAGE SHOWCASE OF SUPPORT.

 

Gifts-in-Kind
Our current need is a bulk supply of new reusable bags and new unused plastic bags to pack food in for distribution. To help with this, please email volunteer@pottstowncluster.org or call 610-970-5995. At this time we are not accepting in-kind donations of food or self-care items from the public as we are limiting all that comes into the building to assure we are taking every precaution we can. As of now, we are focusing on our resources and ability to secure large orders of items that meet distribution safety standards. If you have any interest in supporting this effort, you can do so HERE.

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We are saddened to report the passing of Allan N. Altschull, on Saturday, April 18, 2020. Mr. Altschull served on the Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities Board of Directors, from 2009 through 2016. He served as both the Vice President for one year and as President for four years. During his tenure on the board, he helped the Pottstown Cluster establish a permanent presence in Pottstown, through the purchase of both our properties on North Franklin Street and the renovation and opening of the Cluster Outreach Center in July 2011.

Mr. Altschull’s passion for the Pottstown Cluster’s mission was repeatedly demonstrated by his ability to introduce members of the community to and engage them in our work. Whether that was through finding new board members or new supporters, either financially or through in-kind service, he brought many friends to the organization, helping to grow and sustain our presence in the community.

We were fortunate to have Mr. Altschull participate in our President’s Plaque Reception earlier this year, where recent Board Presidents, including Mr. Altschull, were recognized for their service and dedication. The Pottstown Cluster was blessed by his service over the years and his impact to the organization will have a lasting impression. We extend our deepest sympathies to Mr. Altschull’s family on his passing.

Allan N. Altschull’s Obituary can be read here.

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Hi Friend,

During any crisis, it’s easy to turn inwards and focus on our own needs. However, many people from our community have been reaching out to us to support our mission as we work to provide food security and housing stability to local seniors and families in need during this critical time. This has been an important reminder of the power of community and the fact that working together is our community strength in Pottstown.

We want to recognize those who are helping others and working to keep us all safe. Please join us in recognizing your neighbors, coworkers, friends, and family members who are doing great things for others by using #COVIDCaringPottstown on your social media posts. We will be doing the same to keep you updated on the many acts of kindness we are receiving!

“All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors”- Fred Rogers

 

 

#COVIDCARINGPOTTSTOWN

Our volunteers and employees have been busy helping us meet the growing demand by packing food boxes, distributing food, and restocking shelves.

 

We appreciate all of our volunteers especially those who continue working vigorously to ensure our neighbors struggling with hunger do not have to worry about how they will feed themselves or their families. Thank you!

Jill Dennin, Chair, Pottstown Cluster of Religious Commuities Development Committee, Board member, and volunteer
Barbara Wilhelmy, LCSW, Executive Director, Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities and Valerie Arkoosh, MD, MPH Chair, Montgomery County Board of Commissioners
Barbara Wilhelmy, LCSW, Executive Director, Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities and Kenneth Lawrence, Jr. Vice Chair, Montgomery County Board of Commissioners

#COVIDCARINGPOTTSTOWN

At our 8th annual “You Gotta Have Heart” event in September, we honored our 2019 Cluster Community Awardees, Valerie Arkoosh, MD, MPH Chair, Montgomery County Board of Commissioners and Kenneth Lawrence, Jr. Vice Chair, Montgomery County Board of Commissioners for their significant contributions towards improving Food Security, Housing Stability, and Supportive Services and Education within and beyond the Greater Pottstown area.

 

We would like to take this opportunity to recognize and thank our Commissioners for keeping us well informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Our commissioners—in coordination with the CDC—continue to respond to the evolving situation in Montgomery County to keep us safe and help detect and slow the spread of the virus. We applaud their responsiveness and commitment to keeping us informed and—most importantly—prioritizing our health and safety during this time.

#COVIDCARINGPOTTSTOWN

Thanks to a generous Pottstown family, the Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities has been given a $5,000 match opportunity to help struggling families and seniors in this time of crisis. Thanks to our community’s generosity and willingness to help, we are over half way to our goal.

 

But we need your help to reach our goal and continue this work. You can support the Pottstown Cluster’s response to COVID-19 through April 30 and your gift will be doubled – helping the Pottstown Cluster meet the need today and tomorrow.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

The Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities Receives a $25,000 Connelly Foundation Grant Award
to Support Renovations at New Education and Administration Center to Bring Essential Services to Residents of the Greater Pottstown Area 

 

POTTSTOWN, PA, April 3, 2020 – The Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities is the recipient of a $25,000 Connelly Foundation grant award in support of renovations needed to achieve occupancy of their new Education and Administration Center located at 61 North Franklin Street in Pottstown Pennsylvania.

 

While the renovation project is currently nearing completion, the award will sponsor the building’s kitchen and fund final projects needed to achieve occupancy and preserve the building’s exterior. “The most compelling reason to complete the work is that it will allow us to provide essential programs with several community partners, bringing supplemental education and support services to those we serve – services that have not been readily available to residents in our area, but which will be possible in this new space. This renovation work will have a multiplier effect in benefit in this community where the need is so great,” said Barbara Wilhelmy, Executive Director of the Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities.

 

Essential services for residents of the Greater Pottstown area include a pilot program with Philabundance and Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery and Delaware County on financial literacy for working families who are receiving food through the pantry at the Pottstown Cluster’s Outreach Center. The goal for participants is to improve their overall financial and housing stability, thus eliminating their need to use the pantry. This end goal is to not just reduce hunger, but eliminate hunger for these working families. Additionally, a partnership with HopeWorx Inc., TIME, to support individuals who have had experience with the judicial system and are seeking to improve their future stability upon re-entering the community. These collaborations and services would not be possible without access to this new space.

 

About Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities

For over 50 years, through interfaith cooperation, the Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities has provided Food Security, Housing Stability, and Supportive Services and Education to address the basic needs of persons within and beyond the Greater Pottstown area. The Pottstown Cluster coordinates its programs and referrals to help clients improve their overall stability. For more information or to give now, call 610.970.5995, or visit pottstowncluster.org.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

COVID-19 Crisis: An Important Announcement Regarding Food Security in the Greater Pottstown Area

The Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities meets the
growing needs of our local at-risk seniors, as well as, families who are experiencing lost wages and layoffs

 

POTTSTOWN, PA, March 24, 2020 – The Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities, as an organization providing essential services for vulnerable populations, will continue to provide access to food and essential items, as well as, coordinate the food insecurity resources in the Greater Pottstown area to meet the growing needs of our local at-risk seniors and families who are experiencing lost wages and layoffs.

During the COVID-19 crisis, the Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities is responding by providing food for those in need and helping to shelter those who are homeless. “Our employees and volunteers are working vigorously to ensure our neighbors struggling with hunger do not have to worry about how they will feed themselves or their families. The Pottstown Cluster Outreach Center will continue to operate as long as we can safely distribute food and then, after the crisis is over, we will continue to serve the Greater Pottstown area by providing those in need with food, housing, and support so they can improve their overall stability,” said Barbara Wilhelmy, PCRC Executive Director.

Before COVID 19, about 11 percent of the Montgomery County population was considered food insecure, meaning they didn’t have consistent access to sufficient food.  Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic will drastically and quickly increase this percentage. “Those we serve struggle with hunger and many do not even know where their next meal will come from, in usual circumstances. In these very unusual circumstances, we have prepared to have food available for those who need it and are open to serve them,” said Victoria Bumstead, PCRC Outreach Center Director.

The recent concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic have reminded the Pottstown Cluster and Greater Pottstown area residents that our community is stronger when we work together. To harness the power of collective community action and to stretch the food resources beyond the initial crisis, the Pottstown Cluster has agreed to coordinate the food insecurity resources in our area.  Having a single point of contact will lessen duplication of service and will allow resources to stretch further.  A single contact will also spread the services to be available over many days rather than all at once.

For up-to-date information from the Pottstown Cluster about how to help the vulnerable populations in our community during the COVID-19 crisis, please visit pottstowncluster.org/covid19foodsecurity. Anyone who is interested in donating to the Pottstown Cluster to provide food security for our local at-risk seniors, as well as families who are experiencing lost wages and lay offs can do so here: pottstowncluster.org/covid19requestforsupport or send their contribution to the Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities, 57 North Franklin Street, Pottstown, PA 19464. Anyone who is interested in volunteering to support the Pottstown Cluster Outreach Center operations or Community Meals efforts can email volunteer@pottstowncluster.orgIf you are a business, organization, or individual community member that is considering offering a community meal, food collection, or other food related efforts, please consider contacting communications@pottstowncluster.org for coordination and planning.

 

About Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities

For over 50 years, through interfaith cooperation, the Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities has provided Food Security, Housing Stability, and Supportive Services and Education to address the basic needs of persons within and beyond the Greater Pottstown area. PCRC coordinates its programs and referrals to help clients improve their overall stability. For more information or to give now, call 610.970.5995, or visit pottstowncluster.org.

 

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UP3 logo

On December 11, 2019, the Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities (PCRC) celebrated eight empowered UP3 (Understanding Poverty to Plan and Persevere) graduates during a ceremony and celebration at The Hill School Center for the Arts. It was great celebrating and hearing directly from our graduates and we couldn’t be more proud of them! The UP3 graduates successfully completed a 16-week UP3 program dedicated to getting out of poverty, building social connections, and goal planning. We are proud to announce that our graduates are now on a path to creating a brighter financial future for themselves.

Understanding Poverty to Plan and Persevere (UP3) is a mentored 16-week program which builds on the framework of Bridges Out of Poverty, and helps individuals build their resources and social capital. The program has made a positive difference in the lives of so many people over the years.

For more information click HERE or contact Ryli Meyer at 610.970.5995 or RMeyer@pottstowncluster.org.

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The Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities (PCRC), as a Philabundance community partner, will be addressing summer hunger needs in the Greater Pottstown area by distributing approximately 180 free, nutritious Philabundance LunchBoxes weekly to kids who rely on school meals as a steady source of food when school is in session.

The LunchBox program provides free and nutritious ready-to-eat meals for kids under 18 who have lost access to school breakfast and lunch over summer vacation. At PCRC, kids will pick up LunchBoxes on Wednesdays and Thursdays between 10:30 am and 12:30 pm at 57 North Franklin Street, Pottstown, PA 19464.

“During the summer months, we serve families with kids who wonder whether they will have enough to eat. These kids visit our Outreach Center and receive a ready-to-eat meal that day. Summer should be a time for fun and growth, not hunger,” said Victoria Bumstead, PCRC Outreach Center Director.

LunchBox meals are generously sponsored by GIANT Food Stores and produced by students in Philabundance’s culinary and life skills training program, Philabundance Community Kitchen. LunchBoxes include items like wraps, milk, and produce; some meals are fresh, while others are shelf-stable, with items like barbecue chicken, fruit cups, hummus dip, and more.

About Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities

For over 50 years, through interfaith cooperation, the Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities (PCRC) has provided Food Security, Housing Stability, and Supportive Services and Education to address the basic needs of persons within and beyond the Greater Pottstown area. PCRC coordinates its programs and referrals to help clients improve their overall stability. For more information or to give now, call 610.970.5995, or visit pottstowncluster.org.

About Philabundance

Philabundance is the Delaware Valley’s largest hunger relief organization. For 35 years, it has focused on providing emergency food to those in need. In 2018, it relieved hunger by distributing more than 26 million pounds of food through a network of 350 member agencies. In 2019, it began partnerships with critical services providers, offering food coupled with other services to end hunger for good. Philabundance serves more than 90,000 people each week, 30 percent of whom are children, 16 percent of whom are seniors, and other clients include college students, single parents and the working class. Give now or learn more at Philabundance.org.

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