Get to know your Community Action Center

6/12/2018

Everyone likes to help others.  When we think of neighbors, we think of Fred Rogers:  “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood/ A beautiful day for a neighbor/ Would you be mine?/ Could you be mine?...”   Yes, we answer!  We want that kind of neighbor and we want to be that kind of neighbor.  So what does that actually mean?  Being neighborly is acting like Mr. Rogers, speaking kindly and respectfully, being yourself, helping those in need and receiving help when needed.  I want to live in a neighborhood like that with “neighbors helping neighbors.”  Did you know that Northfield is a community filled with neighbors just like this?  In 1969, some of them wanted their neighborly reach to be felt throughout their community so they formed the Community Action Center                               

To many people, the CAC is only a food bank and a clothes closet, but to those whose lives have been turned upside down, it is much, much more than that.  It is a welcoming place of respect and neighborliness.  It is a place where people give and people receive and both understand a little more what neighborliness is all about.  The mission of the CAC is “to promote a healthy, caring, and just community for all people through resources, advocacy, and volunteer effort.”  And they accomplish this through the people who walk through their doors.  Many people volunteer to help those in crisis and in need.  Last year almost 1200 people gave more than 27,000 hours to keep the Food Shelf stocked and the Clothes Closet organized.  They fed neighbors through Thursday’s Table and helped families shop for gifts during Christmas Sharing.  They also taught and coached and mentored those needing to learn more about their finances and legal standing and digital technology.  Some helped the CAC update their technology and keep up with the times.  Some provided emergency transportation, others helped wherever needed.   Some worked at the CAC while others served through local churches, Northfield Public School programs, and at one of the many partner organizations joining together to meet the varied needs of the Northfield community families. 

Metal shelves filled with dry foodsTo many other people, the CAC is The Food Shelf and The Clothes Closet.  For them, loss of health or jobs or homes translates into helplessness and despair.  The CAC exists to offer hope to regain dignity and self-worth during their period of upheaval and transition.  In 2017 more than 540,000 pounds of food was distributed to families throughout Northfield and over 4600 hot meals were served at Thursday’s Table.  See the website for current menu.  Over 400 households received free clothing items and in 2017, 1100 pajamas lovingly hand-sewn by Northfield ladies were given as gifts to area children through the Christmas Sharing program.  The Clothes Closet also serves the thrifty-minded within the Northfield community.  Donate or shop, either way you help clothe Northfield neighbors. 

Families in distress, adults in need of job training, emergency help and crisis counseling—these are some of the ways the CAC reaches  out to hurting neighbors.  Children are often caught in the middle of these difficult situations.  The CAC offers help with needed school supplies at the start of the school year  through Operation Backpack, gifts at Christmas through Christmas Sharing, food service during summer breaks, and scholarships for activities and summer camp.  Aging neighbors may receive assistance through the Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors.

The Community Action Center is a community-centered organization that is focused on action.  When you see a neighbor in need of the goods and services of the CAC, take them there for a visit and introduce them to their friendly Northfield neighbors.

CREDIT:  CommunityActionCenter.org