- Rebecca Flach
2020 Annual Report
Learn how Hope Full Life Center served the community last year
Caring for the needy in Southern Albany County took on special significance in 2020 as we responded to the fallout from COVID-19. As grocery shelves started to empty, and schools, businesses and other community services shuttered, Hope Full Life Center decided we’d do whatever was necessary to remain open knowing access to low-cost food would be needed more than ever.
The pandemic challenged our business practices, and our volunteers, but our commitment to serving the hungry never waivered. Hope Full Life Center blessed hundreds of people last year through Helping Harvest, its community food assistance program.
What is Hope Full Life Center?
• Hope Full Life Center (HFLC) is the hands-on ministry of Abounding Love Christian Fellowship.
• The organization assists the needy in Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk and throughout southern Albany County and the surrounding region through Helping Harvest, a community food assistance program that encourages self-sufficiency.
• HFLC is a 501(C)3 not-for-profit corporation founded in 2012.
• HFLC oversees Helping Harvest and the Linda Civill Community Garden.
• Mission Statement: Hope Full Life Center empowers people. Activated by compassion, our multi-faceted outreach provides a helping hand, not a hand-out, to improve life for our neighbors.
2020 Program Highlights
Helping Harvest is a community food assistance program for families struggling to put food on the table. It functions like a grocery store. Our members can make their own selections and “check out” with a donation. Families save an average of 50% on their groceries at Helping Harvest.
• Helping Harvest sent home an estimated $200,000 worth of groceries with low-income families in the area.
• Helping Harvest has 483 current members. We have served nearly 1,450 individuals or families since we opened in 2010.
• 85 new families enrolled in Helping Harvest in 2020.
• Total member shopping visits to Helping Harvest in 2020 was nearly 3,000 (2,997 visits to be exact).
• When we add members and all the people in their households, Helping Harvest assists 1,000 + people in the area with food and nutrition.
• Many members are from Ravena, Coeymans and Selkirk, but we have people travel from as far away as Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady and points south to use Helping Harvest.
Community Minded • When we had an over-abundance of food we shared it with the Ravena Senior Projects, Teen Challenge, the Capital City Rescue Mission and area food pantry programs.
• We support Capital Roots, a Troy-based not-for-profit, through the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables weekly.
Linda Civill Community Garden
Due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 last April/May/June, we did not open the community garden.
Other 2020 Accomplishments
The Center and Helping Harvest followed the CDC’s guidelines for health and safety from the start of the pandemic. Our team followed rigorous cleaning protocols to disinfect frequently touched surfaces. We instituted mask requirements and social distancing for staff and Helping Harvest members.
Events & Special Projects
During the Christmas season we gave away 50 Blessing Bags to families in need. The boxes were full of kitchen staples such as pasta and sauce, tuna fish, peanut butter, canned fruit and other foods that offered a variety of flavors and nutrition. Generous donors, including TCI of New York LLC, made the project possible. The Ravena Branch of the Bank of Greene County helped us promote the Blessing Boxes and accepted donations for the cause. We identified plenty of need with Helping Harvest members and all bags were distributed through the program. 2020 marked the third year Hope Full Life Center ran the Blessing Bag program during the Christmas season.
• A core group of 12 volunteers and staff kept Helping Harvest running during the pandemic. • Albany Adult and Teen Challenge provided us with help on food delivery days as often as possible in 2020. We depend on their student’s strong backs and energy to help us with labor intensive projects.
• Other organizations that usually supply us with volunteers, including the Special Education Department at RCS Central School District and the Albany County Community Justice Outreach Center were unable to do so in 2020.
• We also missed hosting groups of students affiliated with STARS Intergen who do service projects at Helping Harvest. We hope to welcome them back by fall 2021. • We were unable to host our annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, usually held in February or March. Perhaps this can be scheduled for fall 2021 or spring 2022. We’ll have much to celebrate!
Grants and Donations
HFLC generates the bulk of its operating income from individual donations. However, the charity was grateful to receive grant money from The Bank of Greene County and Stewart’s Shops in 2020. We also received donations from CDPHP, Flach Industries, Port of Coeymans, P&M Brick, Curaleaf of New York LLC and other business in the community, including The Village Pizzeria. Save A Lot and Trader Joes donated groceries to us throughout the year. We are grateful to each of these organizations who believe in our work and who help us walk out our mission.
Hope Full Life Center is proud the roll we played in our community during the pandemic. In addition to giving struggling families in the RCS community access to low-cost food, we supplied a benefit far less tangible - dignity.
The Center’s staff and volunteers strive to offer a clean, friendly, professionally operated program where customers can make selections to suit their individual tastes and needs. Through modest donations, customers contribute to their well-being and ensure the survival of the programs for others.
We are inspired by our fellow volunteers and the people we serve. We lean on Matthew 25:35-40 for direction: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”