Human Race participants support new building for Elmhurst-Yorkfield pantry
By Jacki Lawrence
I live in the Yorkfield neighborhood, attend Yorkfield Presbyterian Church where the new pantry is built and participate as volunteer president and co-director. The 350 to 400 families representing more than 1,400 to1,600 clients are the focus of our Mission.
I agreed to join the Elmhurst-Yorkfield Food Pantry's senior leadership in 2005 as a result of seeing the need firsthand as a volunteer and wanting to do more, and that included the capital campaign we just completed. I have watched the growth in demand for the pantry's services, and have seen the outpouring of generosity in the past two years. It was during the capital campaign that we began to invite people intentionally to support our work.
The pantry began in a church closet, then moved into a small house next to the church. The scope of work and outreach grew annually until we just had to find some way to expand.
On the journey to the new building, I met with Jim Ruprecht to ask him about building the food pantry a new two-car garage. He attended our board meetings and facilitated the writing of a business plan. He said we didn't need a new storage area -- we needed an entirely new structure from which to conduct the mission of the pantry.
The pantry built its administrative/financial structure from a $50,000 operation with no formal fundraising to an $800,000-plus organization in two years while building debt free -- a condition for approval with the Yorkfield Presbyterian Church congregation.
We launched the capital campaign on April 6, 2014, broke ground on Aug. 11, 2015, opened to clients on Jan. 2, 2016, and dedicated the new facility on March 8, 2016 -- a grand total of 23½ months.
We've learned that faith and hard work can come together in an overwhelming success against all odds. It is beyond extraordinary to expand the financial foundation of a mission the way we did, but that's exactly what our donors, in collaboration with the leadership of our board of directors, accomplished.
An angel funder and two challenge grants -- one for businesses and community groups and a second one for gifts -- came together to leverage the generosity of those who gave through the specified constituency groups.
It was another contact of mine that facilitated the link to James Ruprecht, Daedalus Development and Reclaimed Table, who was at that time an Elmhurst resident. Jim's primary philanthropic passion is feeding hungry neighbors.
He became our project designer and, through his family's foundation, underwrote the community challenge grant for $100,000 that leveraged $300,000 of funds that were raised. He also made calls and engaged his friends and colleagues in the new construction.
We had a small group of intrepid walkers in last year's rainy Human Race. It's a great team-building event for a board, volunteers and staff members.
Elmhurst-Yorkfield Food PantryThe Elmhurst-Yorkfield Food Pantry is an all-volunteer pantry offering food distribution three days a week from its new facility at 1083 S. York Road, Elmhurst, as well as a monthly client-choice "shopping" day. As many as 400 families a month come from Elmhurst, Addison, Bensenville, Berkeley, Hillside, Lombard, Oak Brook and Villa Park and surrounding towns to use the pantry. For information, call (630) 782-1066 or visit eyfp.org. To join the Human Race in support of the pantry, visit dupagehumanrace.org.