Annual Redlands Family Services report shows meals need almost doubled
By Toni Momberger
Executive Director Kyra Stewart, right, thanks Ellen Weisser for her service as an outgoing board member at the annual Family Services Association of Redlands meeting Tuesday.
The Family Service Association of Redlands is feeling the impact of the recent Blessing Center closure, the numbers at Tuesday morning’s annual meeting showed.
The community-support facility on Lawton Street was full for the presentation of the year’s accomplishments, officer installation and observance of the organization’s 120th year of service.
Family Services is a multi-service agency that tends to the needs of the hungry and homeless in the East Valley of San Bernardino County, where multiple resources for low-income families reduced services or closed in the fall.
“I was shocked,” said Development Fund Manager Jill Prendergast, who joined the FSA staff a month ago. “In 2016 we served around 5,000 meals, and this year we were close to 9,000, which is a huge increase.”
Meeting “the ever-increasing needs in the community versus the resources that we have” came during a tough year, reported Executive Director Kyra Stewart, describing various campus and facility issues that included fires, floods, and major capital issues.
“This year has been one of the most challenging years ever for our agency,” she said. “Nothing like coming in to work with the ceiling caved in.”
But no matter how quickly the number of breakfast and dinner guests grew, the staff was able to provide, according to Program Director Tina Smith.
“We never run out of food,” she said. “Our volunteers are incredible and resourceful, and we pull food out of our pantry if needed.”
FSA collected 197,982 pounds of food in 2017.
“There were 8,944 meals served in this kitchen,” Stewart said, “and 907 families receiving food, versus about 500 last year.”
During the summer volunteers served 391 lunches through a program that serves children who receive free or reduced lunch at school when it’s in session.
Groceries are also bought with proceeds of the annual 5K Redlands Hunger Walk, which will be June 2 this year at 8 a.m. beginning at the University of Redlands Memorial Chapel (register at redlandsfamilyservice.org.) and Stewart shared Tuesday that the last walk generated $30,000.
Dinner in the Grove, another annual fundraising event, raised $115,000, and the year-end campaign brought in $277,000. This revenue goes to office support, housing and other services.
FSA’s housing program placed 44 homeless families into stable housing, according to Tuesday’s report and saved another 120 families from homelessness through emergency rental assistance.
This is possible, Stewart said, because of this datum: There were 935 unique volunteers who performed 1,682 hours of service last year.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into this organization,” she said as she introduced the outgoing board members and thanked them for their service.
Those were Jerry Bean, Ann Leonard, Gloria Moreland, Terry Vines and Ellen Weisser.
“Kyra has visionary leadership we all appreciate,” Bean said.
New board members Charlotte Burgess, Yolanda Contreras, Deborah Crowley, Kayla Granillo, Olivia Knudsen, Victoria Watson, Sharon Williams and Alesandra Wilson were installed by Redlands Mayor Paul Foster. In March the organization will send a letter to many across the community asking for financial support.
“We have to have more business support,” said Prendergast. “Thisis our community. With the Blessing Center and the Salvation Army pulling back, there’s really not enough resources for those who need them.”