Rehoboth: Community Resource Center extends help, services to neighbors

December 7, 2021

It’s an understatement to say that the Community Resource Center in Rehoboth – one of the Food Bank of Delaware’s network of community partners — is a busy place; it’s bustling. Even though this center off the proverbial beaten path, it’s become a destination for people who need food and support. Located yards off the busy Forgotten Mile – that stretch of highway linking Rehoboth and Dewey beaches — the non-descript, two-story block structure belies the extensive services provided by several to neighbors in need.

Program Manager Monica Chmielewski coordinates five programs delivered by a small army of volunteers,

including financial counseling, volunteer training, a job center, a baby pantry, as well as food rescue for the food pantry.

In addition to distributing meals, volunteers manage materials, stock shelves, and assist in loading cars as well as all the other moving parts that comprise a successful community service organization.

“We’re seeing a recent increase in people coming in to the food rescue because of the increase in food prices,” said Chmielewski.

Volunteers from this agency pick up weekly food boxes from the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford site, and they also stock their shelves with regular donations from Giant, Starbucks, Fresh Market, and Wawa. Families are able to select food from the center from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The center may see 7-15 families daily, and Chmielewski says some days more people – recently as many as 20 — come in. Food Bank backpacks – or weekend for children – are also available.

Food is distributed from a converted garage space that is tightly packed with shelving, refrigerators, and freezers. Masked volunteers  “shop” for clients, bag or box the food; families wait outside. “Because of Covid,” explains Chmielewski. “I don’t think we will change that.”

“It’s not just for food, personal items. They rely on us. It’s neighbors. We know everyone. We’re more of a connection in a neighborhood,” she added. “We make sure everyone has a coat. Van’s outlet brought shoes to us, and we do thrift store vouchers so people can shop for coats or

shoes.”

And while the temperatures this fall have been relatively mild, Chmielewski notes that the homeless shelter – on the center’s second floor – opens in December and will provide beds, meals, laundry facilities, showers, and counseling to 7-10 people every day. In addition, center counselors often connect families to state services that provide emergency shelter and financial aid.

Chmielewski acknowledges the center is also part of a community where those who are able contribute time, talent, and gifts. “We get private donations,” she explained, noting that recently a man stopped by with a very generous check. Others pass along gently used toys. “People can use them. Although this is a resort community, the people who live here have been very generous.”

The Community Resource Center offers support to other agencies, such as the Cape Henlopen Food Basket, sharing their building, and shares resources with organizations, such as Crisis House and Epworth U.M. Church. “We support one another. There is very little waste,” she said.

To learn more about the Community Resource Center, click here.

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