The line starts forming as early as 4 a.m. at the food pantry run by Greater Waterbury Interfaith Ministries (GWIM).
It’s the last Monday of the month, and by then food stamps have been spent and people are hungry. Many have come early so they can still make it to work on time.
On days like this, GWIM distributes more than 10,000 pounds of basic groceries, including canned vegetables, frozen meats, cereal and bread, to 350 people struggling to put food on their tables. GWIM also serves thousands of meals—365 days per year—to people in need. Many are children.
Barbara Ann Dublin, GWIM’s executive director for 25 years, directs the massive effort to collect, distribute and serve meals to people in need who reside throughout Greater Waterbury.
Of the people who seek out GWIM’s services, she says, “A number of people are even working two jobs, but with minimum wage and all the expenses they have to pay, they still need this helping hand. They need the food pantry.”
“We don’t judge here,” she continues. “We don’t mind if someone is from Cheshire or Naugatuck or Waterbury, we say ‘no’ to no one. If this is the bridge that we have to make for them to reach the other side, that’s what we do—no questions asked.”
Dublin and her tiny staff at GWIM marshal the energies and food donations of a small army of volunteers, including local businesses, schools, nonprofit organizations and civic groups, to stock the food pantry and cook and serve meals. Fifty-two “member” churches, synagogues and a mosque are the core drivers of the work.
Connecticut Community Foundation’s donors have consistently and very generously stepped up over the years to lend a hand, making it possible for over $250,000 in grant funding to reach GWIM since 1990.
GWIM’s extraordinary effectiveness in coordinating so many local partners to meet a critical community need has earned them the 2018 Trustee Fund Award, an honor created by current and former trustees of Connecticut Community Foundation to recognize exceptional innovation and collaboration that benefits communities in Greater Waterbury and the Litchfield Hills. The award includes a $5,000 grant from the Trustee Fund to further GWIM’s mission.
Trustee Kathryn Kehoe of Washington, Connecticut, in presenting the Trustee Fund Award to GWIM, observed that “GWIM does so much more than feed individuals and families…GWIM feeds hope. Many recipients are helped to get back on their feet and are empowered to become self-sufficient.”
Indeed they are, since Dublin has also established GWIM as a resource for people seeking social and government services—from veteran’s benefits to housing assistance to legal aid. At GWIM, intake assessments aim to match people to community services that may help them move forward.
It all comes together at GWIM, even on this stifling July day, where there’s no air conditioning in the rehabbed three-family house that has been converted to serve as their headquarters. Here today and many days is a Woodbury landscaper who volunteers by serving meals. The owner of a Waterbury restaurant drops by with food donations. Fresh produce from the vegetable gardens at Fulton Park farmed by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UConn Waterbury is being offered through GWIM’s food pantry. Coming and going is a steady stream of people of all ages seeking a meal—and finding it.
In their midst is Don J. Watch him tell his story:
Top photo: Executive Director Barbara Ann Dublin accepts the 2018 Trustee Fund Award on behalf of Greater Waterbury Interfaith Ministries. Photo by Jake Koteen Photography
View all the photos from the Trustee Awards celebration.