Everyday there are low-income individuals and families struggling to scrape together enough money to pay for the essential’s that the Food Supplement Program (formerly Food Stamps) does not cover. Items such as toilet paper, laundry soap, cleaning supplies, mouthwash, toothpaste, deodorant, and disposable diapers are not eligible for purchase with food stamps.
In 2009, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Augusta opened Everyday Basics Essential’s Pantry to help families bridge the gap between what Food Stamps will cover and what individuals and families actually need. Their mission is “…to provide for the basic needs that are vital to the creation and preservation of human dignity, self-esteem, and well-being of people. We will accomplish this through raising peoples’ awareness of the plight of others, becoming a resource for freely distributing necessities essential to daily life and by building a broad community of inclusiveness.”
The Everyday Basics program is housed at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and supported by parishioners, an Episcopal Diocese of Maine Outreach Ministry grant, and a strong commitment from three other local faith communities: St. Barnabas Episcopal Church and Unitarian Universalist Community Church both in Augusta and St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Hallowell. The program is coordinated by Pat Bamforth and the Rev. Rebecca Grant. They work together with volunteers to provide everyday essentials to those in need. They are open on the 1st and 3rd Saturday afternoons of each month in conjunction with Addie’s Attic Clothing Bank and the Angel Food Public Suppers at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.
JusticeandMercyME recently had the opportunity to speak with the Rev. Rebecca Grant about Everyday Basics. When asked how this ministry addresses issues of justice and mercy, Grant responded: “This ministry is about creation and preservation of human dignity. Imagine not being able to afford toilet paper, diapers for an infant, or the laundry detergent to wash your family’s clothing. Poverty is one of the greatest enemies of human dignity and while Everyday Basics cannot end the world’s poverty or even that in the Kennebec region, it can make a difference in the lives of those who seek us out. No one person is greater than the other- volunteer or guest- we care and we are equals. Conveying that message through action more than words begins the germination of relationships, inclusiveness, and clear message that God cares for each and every one of his precious children- they are loved and they deserve dignity which is what we strive to provide even more than the essential items we distribute.”
“We operate with limited resources, housed by the Parish of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, and generously supported by three local faith communities and a diocesan grant. The fact that we have yet to run out of items for distribution is the manifestation of God’s grace in our lives. Through this ministry, the volunteers, and its supporters, we are living into Jesus two great commandments as a way of being present to the people of the Kennebec region.”
Today Everyday Basics received a Spirit of America Foundation Award at a ceremony at the Blaine House. The Spirit of America Foundation is a non-profit foundation established in 1990 to honor volunteerism. Each year, Spirit of America Awards are presented in the name of more than 25 Maine municipalities to individuals, organizations and projects for commendable community service. The Rev. Rebecca Grant accepted the award on behalf of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, its ministry partners and volunteers.
If you would like to offer a financial gift, donate goods, or volunteer at the pantry please contact the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church at (207) 622-2424.