LCN celebrates 25 years of service
As we celebrate LCN’s 25 years of service to our neighbors, I am drawn to the meaning in our “Loaves & Fishes” logo.
In 1987 a food pantry was visualized by members of the Suttons Bay Congregational Church. Jack & Mary Reynolds Shannahan, together with Bob & Mary Chamberlain, fostered this idea. A bag of staple foodstuffs would feed a small family for a few days. The qualification would be that the recipients be hungry. SBCC was immediately joined by Trinity Church in Northport, Immanuel Lutheran and Keswick Methodist Churches in Suttons Bay. Church participation grew quickly to (13) churches. The ecumenical efforts and the simple mission attracted enormous secular support as well. Other events followed.
• The Neighborhood Assistance Ministry was established in 1998, as LCN became more financially able.
• The Northport Pantry began in 1999.
• 2005/2006 marked LCN’s first fund raising & grant writing efforts.
The ways we serve the needs of our neighbors must also match up with ways to better serve our volunteers, and communicate more to the many donors that support our mission.
• 2009 saw the establishment of a formal structure, including volunteer committees for Finance, Fund Development, Marketing, and Technology .
• LCN’s first Strategic Plan was begun in 2010, touching all LCN volunteers.
• NAM restructured to add volunteers & training in 2012.
• We published LCN’s first Volunteer Handbook, to support the increased expectations of 100 plus volunteers.
In addition to the natural beauty of our surroundings, quality of life comes from the diversity of our population and the economy that supports us — whether it be tourism, agriculture, or any related endeavors that we and our neighbors participate in. Even volunteerism contributes to quality of life, and is a growing trend, just at the time it is needed! LCN remains dedicated to its simple mission of “providing food for the hungry and aiding those who have inadequate resources to respond to emergencies.” Our volunteers will continue to find creative ways to respond to our neighbors’ needs.
• Strategic Planning continues, with updates to achieve many “Best Practice” goals.
• New means to communicate to our stakeholders continue to be explored & adopted.
• Our mission is expanding to include YOUTH! We reach out to teach volunteerism to Leelanau County youth.
• Now we are reaching out to youth in need through our newest food program, “Blessings in a Backpack.” Each Friday starting this fall, we will be sending home a backpack of food each Friday with elementary school children in critical need. (www.leelanauchristianneighbors.org/blessings-in-a-backpack)
LCN is not standing still. While we envision a strengthening economy that would raise the economic well being of all Leelanau County residents, LCN will be needed many years into the future. Our support comes not only from the “time, talents, and treasures” of our many supporters, but also from the hardworking attitude of the neighbors that are such an important part of our experience in this special place.
— Author is the current president of Leelanau Christian Neighbors, which is dedicated to feeding hungry residents of Leelanau County and aiding those with emergency needs, “LCN” delivers it services through over 100 volunteers. He is also the former owner of Strata Design, Inc. in Traverse City, and is a past president of the Traverse Area Economic Development Corporation (EDC).