Dear Friend of Reach Out Lakota:
I continue to be amazed by and feel blessed to be a part of this wonderful organization.
Another year has come and gone, and our pantry continues to serve those in this community who are struggling. We didn’t know that the pandemic would continue to impact everyone’s lives for another year, but it did. Just like in 2020 when the community stepped forward to help, this year too was a year of great support and encouragement. I continue to be amazed by and feel blessed to be a part of this wonderful organization. There are so many volunteers who give their time and love to serve and help us continue to provide wonderful service. With over 10,000 volunteer hours you can see that this pantry operates with lots of volunteer time.
As you review the statistics from this year, picture a family struggling paycheck to paycheck then getting a ton of beautiful clothing and a car full of food and even a birthday cake. See that smile on their faces and hear that gratitude they express as they say, “thank you so much for all you did for us.”
The Northern Cincinnati Foundation (formerly the Community Foundation of West Chester / Liberty Township) has been a supporter of the pantry since their beginning and we were grateful that they donated $200,000 to an endowment fund at the Foundation to help jump start a sustainability fund. As the fund grows, it will ensure that going into the future there will always be financial support for the pantry.
We continued to see new families this year who had never had to ask for help from any organization before. Being a part of helping get things back in order for them is an honor. The care that I see our staff and volunteers provide to our clients is a testament to their desire to not only help feed and provide basic needs, but to treat everyone as a person who has dignity and worth.
The support we receive from individuals, schools, churches and companies in the form of food drives, personal care drives and financial donations is inspiring.
Scott D Stephens
Our mission at Reach Out Lakota is to give a helping hand up to those living in West Chester/ Liberty Township by putting help and hope into the hands of our community.
Sue Cheney - President
Scott Stephens - CEO
Tim Harmon - Food Pantry Coordinator
Reach Out Lakota strives to generate strength and resiliency in our community by connecting donations to our pantry with families in need. It serves as a bridge through which food and clothing get to those who need it most. - Sue Cheney, Board President
Our current support programs provide families with:
Additional special programs include:
In 2021, due to COVID-19, we:
We were named Best Philanthropic Organization for the 5th year in a row
by readers of the West Chester + Liberty Lifestyle Magazine.
Joan said when she woke up she just didn't know what to do and was feeling broken down because of the struggles in her life. She cried but still got up, got dressed and drove to our pantry. As she pulled in to the parking lot she proceeded to say, “God places us where we are meant to be.”
Joan was having a rough time – she had lost her job, her parents had fallen and she had stepped up to take care of them. Because of these things, she felt like she hadn’t had time to breathe. When she came to Reach Out Lakota, we took the extra time needed to listen, to be with her and to provide her with some immediate help.
She said, “It was no mistake when I walked in here today” and told Alyson, our intake specialist, that the staff and volunteers were all so friendly. When she apologized for coming in late and causing everyone stay past closing time, Alyson reassured her that we didn’t mind, that we would do what we could for her.
Joan was beyond grateful for all we gave her that day as well as for the resources and referrals we were able to provide for additional help. But she was most grateful for the time we took to simply listen and talk with her.
I met David and Anne Hoehn in mid-December. As I showed them the pantry and discussed ways Reach Out Lakota helps the community, they talked about how they too wanted to make a big impact on our community and those we serve.
After asking about our needs, David and Anne surprised me with a donation of $50,000!
I was blown away by their generosity - what a tremendous gift. A portion of their donation will be used to replace our roof in the Spring of 2022. We are so thankful for their selfless gift.
A special thank you to our community partner, Walmart on Cincinnati-Dayton Rd.
Twice a week our volunteers pick up fruit, vegetables and meat for our families. We get about 5,000 lbs of food from Walmart each month. Because of their generosity, our families are receiving more fresh foods and quality meats.
In the spring we were approached by a family who wanted to make a donation to the pantry and we discussed how they could help maximize their gift. We decided to run a matching gift campaign. The family would match the first $5,000 in donations that came in by April 15th.
Thank you to the Northern Cincinnati Foundation for their generous donation of $200,000 to the Endowment Fund for Reach Out Lakota. These funds will grow and provide long-term sustainability for our organization. We are so thankful to the Foundation - and to all those who have contributed to this fund - for their commitment to Reach Out Lakota.
If you would like to contribute to the Endowment Fund, please contact the Northern Cincinnati Foundation to learn how your gift can ensure the future success of the pantry.
We appreciate all those who donate financially to Reach Out Lakota. The generosity of you and others makes our pantry possible. In 2021 we saw a slight increase in the number of people who made a regular monthly donation to Reach Out Lakota. While we see greater overall contributions at the end of each year, recurring donations are very important in helping us to cover pantry expenses all 12 months. We are grateful to those who make the choice to set up recurring donations in support of our cause.
Over 700 individuals and 100+ groups held collections or made donations to the pantry in 2021. And those are only the ones we were aware of to thank!
Some donors drop off monthly and others come anonymously. Cars drive up multiple times a day, every day, to drop off items in the food and clothing sheds at the back of the pantry. Even when it is snowing, someone typically arrives to make a donation. Although we don’t have a count on just how many individuals drop off donations in our sheds, the number must be in the thousands. This year alone we gave out over 57,000 articles of clothing, and our shelves are not empty, so we certainly received thousands more items than that. Thank you to all who make those donations.
The West Chester and Liberty Township community is amazing in their support.
Groups/Churches/Businesses that held a collection for Reach Out Lakota in 2021
While we did our best to include all groups or companies that sponsored a drive for our organization this year, please accept our apologies if we missed you.
The 2021 Corporate Food Fight was a huge success. This food drive competition is held annually in June to replenish our shelves for the summer months. This year, we had 24 participating companies who collected almost 6,000 pounds of food and $13,612 in donations.
The 2021 Grand Champion (for both money and pounds of food donated) was Jacobs and in Second Place was ThreeBond. The First Place winner for pounds of food donated was Pilot Chemical and in Second Place was RiskSource.
We appreciate all who participated and helped fill our shelves.
Our annual fundraiser, Play It Forward, returned to an “in-person” at Topgolf in 2021. It was a great night of fun, food, prizes and we raised $30,000 for the pantry.
The Lakota Schools annual Stuff the Bus collection was just as big as last year. In 2021, another 15,000 lbs of food was collected for the pantry. Donated items filled two storage containers and, with the help of New Life Chapel volunteers and our regular volunteers, both pods were emptied in less than 2 hours! Thank you!
If you have ever made a donation to Reach Out Lakota and brought it inside the pantry, there is a good chance you have met Tim Harmon who has volunteered at Reach Out Lakota for 22 years.
As Food Pantry Coordinator, Tim volunteers his time every Monday night as well as Wednesday and Friday mornings. One of his primary duties is maintaining the inventory of canned and boxed food. He can usually be found sorting items that have been dropped off and then recording the food in our inventory - which he refers to as the “third rail” of the pantry. He follows a first-in, first-out principal and his system of recording, storing and retrieving food items has been used successfully for years to ensure donated food items don’t expire. Along with tracking donations and inventory, Tim makes trips to stores when additional supplies are needed. He also makes all new volunteers feel welcome and teaches them the ropes. When he isn’t at the pantry he can be found playing tennis or sipping a fine bourbon.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
My favorite part is the people I work with.
What is the most unusual item you’ve seen donated?
The oddest donation was a crossbow that was left in the food shed. Maybe the donor thought someone might want to hunt for their food!
What is your most memorable moment at Reach Out Lakota?
Years ago we chose a client to receive a monthly donation of loose change from a kindergarten class. We didn’t see that client for a year but, when she finally came back, she explained that the little bit of cash was all her family needed to be independent.
How long have you volunteered?
I started in 2000. I had recently retired and was co-leading a group at my church. A member of that group told me that her daughter volunteered at Reach Out Lakota and help was needed on Wednesday mornings. My initial commitment was 2 hours a week - now I am at the pantry every day it is open plus I help at special events.
Reach Out Lakota volunteers gave 10,250 hours of service in 2021!