ROL was founded in 1992 when a small group of women, Sharon McGuire, Kathy Franks, and Sue Lewis, saw that some in our community were struggling to provide basic needs for their families. It first began with a Christmas drive started by Sharon McGuire. She was soon contacted by Kathy Franks and Sue Lewis from St. John's Catholic Church about distributing food items collected by their parish.
The three women quickly realized there was no outlet for this in the area, so they set out to open a food pantry for residents in the Lakota school district. "I was amazed that the needs were so basic," says Sharon. "After the holidays, the needs were still there. God kept my mind open. I kept thinking "what about people now?"
The trio met with local churches and community members to garner support and almost a year later in 1992 Reach Out Lakota opened its doors one day a week in a 1,000 square foot building on Route 42 in Pisgah. Their first clients came from referrals from school nurses. "Our connection with the schools has always been there," says Sharon. "We wouldn't be able to do this without our schools."
In 1993, Lourdes A. Ward, a licensed social worker, was hired as the executive director. "I am very honored to be the director. I tell everyone that Sharon is our founding mother and she has given me her baby to grow and nurture. I hope I am fulfilling their vision for assisting our neighbors. We wouldn't be here still if it wasn't for the support of our community and the dedication of our many volunteers," says Lourdes. In 2000, the organization moved into its current location on Station Road.
Today, Reach Out Lakota is open three days a week and is run primarily by volunteers, under the direction of CEO Scott Stephens, Accountant Carrie Brownfield and Client Intake Specialist Alyson Montgomery who are the only paid staff, as well as, a volunteer board of directors.
Our current support programs include healthy food options, clothing and small household goods, supplements (paper goods, personal hygiene and infant care products, cleaning products, etc.) as well as, financial and computer literacy programs.
A Back to School fair, Thanksgiving meal distribution, holiday gifts and food distribution are additional special programs offered annually.
Reach Out Lakota continues to operate as an independent food and clothing pantry, and receives no government support or aid. We rely heavily on the West Chester, Liberty Township and Lakota Local School communities for financial and in-kind support. Thank you, neighbors, for years of overwhelming support as we continue to provide a hand up to those less fortunate and discover new ways to make West Chester and Liberty Township the best place to live, work and play!