A Reflection on 35 years
by Al Ripp, Executive Director (Pictured: Don Nachreiner, Al Ripp, Leone Nachreiner, Mayor Kurt Sonnetag)
Middleton Outreach Ministry (MOM) has been serving the area for 35 years. I came to the organization a few years back after having spent my entire career in this community. Yet, I am astounded every day with what I didn’t know about the people and services that are MOM.
MOM’s foundation was built on the compassion of those who wanted to make a difference in the communities where they live. They cared for the well-being of their neighbors whether they were friends, neighbors or total strangers searching out a better life for themselves and their families. Every person that is a part of MOM has a personal story that drives their actions. For some there was a relative or loved one that depended on MOM in their darkest hours and for others it is driven by their faith and the passion for helping others. My own story was molded by the actions of my parents and family members who were always there when someone needed a helping hand.
A donor named Jeff recently shared with us his story:
“At some point after my mom passed away I received a newsletter from MOM asking for help. I thought how fitting it would be to support MOM. Soon after I received a newsletter about a single mother of three who recently learned one of her daughters was terminally ill and had to leave her job to care for her, leaving the family without income. I have no children so there’s no way I could understand what she was going through but thought I could make a difference by giving. I have since read stories of others in need and I am very blessed to play a small role in helping others.”
The most rewarding thing I have experienced at MOM is the new friendships that have been established through volunteering and the joy I witness when people give – the proud kids and parents dropping off the results of a food drive or fund drive, the smile on a gardener’s face when the produce that they grew themselves is delivered to the pantry, and the sincerity of those who find happiness in making a donation or lending a hand. The dedication of the staff, Board and many volunteers that give of their time and talent to make MOM a place of hope and not despair cannot be matched.
Every day I am grounded by the stories of those that we serve and learning how MOM made a significant impact in their lives. To hear how someone was able to make a major life change or to survive during a long trying period of unemployment is powerful. When someone says to me, “MOM saved my family’s life”, I am humbled by the power of compassion and filling simple but vital needs. Each person we serve has their own personal story and we work very hard to treat every person with respect and dignity, free from judgement.
MOM continues to evolve to meet the needs of the community, serving more than 1,400 families each year. In March of 2013, MOM was fortunate to move into a new consolidated facility on Parmenter St., and it’s making an enormous impact on how and what we are able to do for the families we serve. We are one of the largest and most progressive food pantries in Dane County, distributing more than 100,000 pounds of high quality food per month and allowing people to visit as often as they need, truly ending hunger for all those we serve. As one woman told me, “I remember years of empty cupboards and a bare fridge and freezer. I don’t feel depressed from that anymore. I can pay my bills without worrying about feeding my kids.”
MOM also has one of the largest free clothing centers in the area, helping families receive quality clothing for work and school while instilling a sense of pride and dignity. We manage three of our own gardens with the first client/mentor garden in the county, teaching our guests how to grow their own produce while creating a sense of self-worth. We are consistently collaborating with other agencies, businesses and individuals to remove the obstacles that people we serve may face and are always looking for new opportunities. Poverty is a complex issue and it takes innovative solutions to help people get what they need.
There have been many people throughout our 35 years that have laid the groundwork for the success of MOM, but this new site and building have created an opportunity to address even more of the challenges of poverty. MOM is currently in the midst of our first capital campaign in our history and many individuals, businesses and organization have already invested more than $1 million in our future. With just a quarter of our goal left to raise, I would like to invite you to make an investment in the future of our community. Your gift will allow MOM to continue to focus on our mission of preventing homelessness and ending hunger for our neighbors through progressive programs and collaborative partnerships.
We’re re-energized and ready for the next 35 years—join us, and together we can prevent homelessness and end hunger for those in need!
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