BY PAWAN NAIDU
Westside Ministries is once again hoping local community members can help the nonprofit organization win much-needed funds to remodel its kitchen.
Westside Ministries is one of four finalists for the 2021 WORLD Magazine Hope awards for Effective Compassion and could win $10,000 in funding.
“It is a great honor to be nominated for the WORLD Magazine Hope Award. We were surprised to hear that there may be a cash award associated with the article, very good news,” said JoLynn DeGrazia, Westside Ministries founder and director.
Selected from many applicants on the West Coast, Westside Ministries made it to the final round of voting and could win $10,000 to assist in their mission. According to the Hope Awards website, the finalists were chosen because they “best reflected the personalized, challenging, and gospel-centered work of effective compassion. All four are doing the quiet, persevering work of fighting poverty, one soul and one community at a time.”
According to DeGrazia, the prize money would be put to remodeling the organization’s kitchen and bringing it up to code.
“This will enable us to cook food for our community without the fear of cooking in an unregulated kitchen as we have for all of these years,” DiGrazia said.
Westside Ministries was a finalist for the Kubota Tractor Corporation’s Hometown Proud Grant Program, where they were hoping to use the prize money to make updates to their kitchen and also purchase a new tractor. The Hope Awards offers another opportunity to make much needed renovations.
Westside Ministries serves many members of the community every day and things were only were only accelerated during the pandemic. The updates to their kitchen will ensure they will be able to continue providing meals to all members of the community that may need the services.
“We feed 100 plus people five days a week, using produce as well as meat that the children in our neighborhood raise. During COVID we provided 200 meals a day and are concerned that we may be called upon to ramp up during this COVID surge,” she said.
In addition to handing out more than 150 USDA food boxes each week during the pandemic, Westside Ministries utilizes its own youth-produced food along with produce from local food banks and grocery stores to distribute their own food boxes to 500 families each quarter.
Along with providing meals for families, Westside Ministries also offers a weekly dance class, a drop-off center where children can “do homework and have fun in a safe environment,” Bible clubs and recovery programs.
To vote for Westside Ministries in the 2021 Hope Awards for Effective Compassion, visit https://wng.org/2021-hope-awards and click on the Westside Food Literacy Program badge.