The YWCA Family Center, located in Columbus, Ohio, is committed to aiding families who do not have a home. Their mission is to help their residents locate long-term housing within three weeks of entering into the facility. Proceeds from E. E. Ward Moving & Storage’s Laps for Lunches event will be donated to the Family Center and their efforts to fight food insecurity in Franklin county.
The YWCA Family Center currently houses 65 families within their facilities. The residents are given access to advocate resources to develop their individualized GO program. These programs help them reach their goals of getting back on their feet and returning to independence.
One of the greatest stressors these families faced before coming to the shelter was not knowing where they were going to get their next meal. Sandria McCoy, kitchen coordinator of the YWCA Family Center, is responsible for meal planning, preparation, and sanitation. “Our residents are able to look for a job or housing, knowing that their children are being fed and they’ll have a dinner to eat when they get home,” McCoy says. “We also provide prepared packaged food for parents who are working on their GO plans during regular lunch hours.”
McCoy has worked at the YWCA Family Center since they opened their doors in 2005. “I feel like a piece of my soul is here,” McCoy says. “The residents become like a family to us.”
Coordinating the kitchen for the entire center is no small task. Everyday, the Family Center serves breakfast, lunch and dinner to all 200 residents. McCoy and her staff of volunteers prepare each meal from scratch and ensure that it contains the necessary nutrients. “It’s really about the children; making sure they are getting the nutrients they need to grow,” McCoy says. “It’s all the kids! They are what drives me back here everyday.”
A majority of the residents are children, from infants to grade-schoolers. During the summer, the children spend their days playing and learning in the childcare facilities. Their lunches are brought to their classrooms and they work together to serve the meal.
Jessica Wichtman-Will, community engagement manager at the YWCA Family Center, explains that most of the residents come to the shelter when they have nowhere else to go. “What we are providing here is a safe place for families to go when they have nowhere else to go, three meals a day, on-site childcare, and basically trying to eliminate barriers for families,” she says. With 65 families, the center is at capacity. A family stays an average of 21 days.
The center relies on the community to provide dinner for their residents.”We rely 100% on the community to provide dinner for our residents,” Wichtman-Will explains. “The community contributes an estimated $200,000 towards our dinner program each year… They volunteer to provide, prepare, and serve the dinners for our residents.” Breakfast and lunch are provided by funds from the shelter. “Any donation helps relieve the stress of having the expense of another meal. We can use that money to provide other resources that our residents need.”
“Not having to think about where their next meal is coming from is really important. It’s one less thing for them to think about,” McCoy says.
Hear the stories of the Columbus YWCA here.
Laps for Lunches will take place on Friday, August 14 from 7pm-9pm at Grand Prix Karting in Columbus, Ohio. The event will feature a meet-and-greet with NASCAR driver, Dakoda Armstrong, a NASCAR showcar, an auction, and discounted racing. To learn more, please click here.
For more information on the YWCA Family Center, please click here.