Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Food bank to kick off new site

Action Ministries takes step into larger facility

By Cindy Schroeder cschroeder@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON - A food bank serving more than 250 low-income families in southern Kenton County each month will break ground Wednesday on a centrally located facility that will be five times the size of its current cramped quarters.

        Action Ministries Inc., a nonprofit mission run by churches, civic groups and individuals, is building a new 8,000-square-foot building at 4395 Boron Drive. Tom Dorman, executive director of Action Ministries, said the new quarters will provide centralized storage and will enable the volunteer organization to increase its hours of operation.

  What: Ground breaking for Action Ministries food bank.
  When: 11 a.m. Wednesday.
  Where: The new 8,000 square-foot-facility will be built at 4395 Boron Ave. in Covington across from Johnny's Toys.
  How to donate: Tax-deductible contributions for Action Ministries' building fund or its general operations can be sent to Action Ministries, care of Kay Mistler, 3247 Colony Court, Edgewood, Ky. 41017. Please designate on check if the money is for the group's building fund.
        “Right now, we've got (food and paper goods) stored in warehouses around the county, and we have to move it two or three times before we can dispense it,” said Mr. Dorman, a 59-year-old who retired several years ago.

        “It's time consuming, but it's also hard because everyone in our organization is a volunteer and most of the volunteers who are hauling goods are 75 and older.”

        Action Ministries' new quarters also allow the organization to increase its hours of operation, Mr. Dorman said. Their 1,500- square-foot facility behind the Decoursey Baptist Church in Fairview is open for distribution five days a month. The larger facility will make it possible for the group to add more volunteers and operate from 12 to 20 days a month, he said.

        Mr. Dorman said an anonymous donor is contributing about half of the new facility's $450,000 cost, with Action Ministries raising the rest. Before Action Ministries opened its food bank in 1993, the nearest assistance for southern Kenton County's poorest residents was in downtown Covington. However, many rural families lacked the transportation to venture into the city for help.

        Today, the food bank's service area extends from 28th Street in Covington's Latonia neighborhood to the southern end of Kenton County, Mr. Dorman said. It serves all but downtown Covington, Erlanger and Elsmere, which have social service agencies meeting similar needs.

        Besides providing direct assistance, Action Ministries also provides excess bulk goods - especially paper items that aren't covered by food stamps - to organizations including Erlanger-Elsmere United Ministries and Be Concerned in Covington. They also connect families with resources in the community - everything from job training to help in earning a high school equivalency certificate.

        The group got its start at the Kenton County Family Resource Center at Ryland Heights School nearly nine years ago, Mr. Dorman said. Volunteers from several Kenton County churches ran the government commodities program for the resource center, serving about 28 families a month, and “it just mushroomed from there,” he said.

        Today, about one-third of Action Ministries' clients are retired or on a fixed income, Mr. Dorman said. Many are widows or low-income families with two or three children headed by one parent.

        “I have a lot of adopted moms and grandmas,” said long-time volunteer Beth Hunter.

        When Mr. Dorman met Mrs. Hunter at Taylor Mill Church of Christ in 1995, he knew that she liked to talk to people, so he recruited her as a volunteer. Eventually, she became Action Ministries' assistant director, and today the 46-year-old Edgewood resident is on a first-name basis with many clients.

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