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For all the uncertainty of the past year, it also brought an incredible constant: the unwavering support in southern Rhode Island for lending a helping hand to our neighbors in need. It is not an exaggeration to say our community has been what’s kept the Jonnycake Center of Westerly open and ready to offer food supplies and emergency financial assistance for residents facing crisis.

We cannot thank you enough!

As we approach April 1, we’ve been reflecting on the importance of this date for a few reasons. First, it marks one year since this time in 2020 when we began to realize that the temporary pause in most of our operations would last substantially longer than the two weeks expected for the shutdown that began on March 13, 2020. April 1 also marks the anniversary of the first-ever 401Gives Day, which made a tremendous difference in our ability to fight hunger and provide care for underserved neighbors in Westerly and Chariho.

For those who may be unaware, 401Gives is a statewide day of giving, powered by the United Way of Rhode Island, which encourages people to support the local causes they care about most. In its first year, almost 400 non-profits participated, with Rhode Islanders donating a combined $1.3 million in support in a single day. At the Jonnycake Center of Westerly, we raised an incredible $8,135 benefiting our Food Pantry and Social Services office. The word “inspirational” hardly scratches the surface of how meaningful this show of support was for our non-profit organization.

Over the last 12 months, we canceled every fundraising event and saw revenue declines in other areas of our operations, presenting unique challenges in our ability to operate the Center effectively. More than impacting our bottom line, the pandemic threatened our ability to serve those most in need in our service area. Thanks to 401Gives, we gained optimism, and we felt the warm embrace (socially distant, of course) of our community.

The money we raised through 401Gives enabled us to buy 81,350 pounds — more than 40 tons — of food from the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and other partners. It also allowed our social services team to continue to provide basic needs assistance for income-eligible neighbors, helping families with housing bills, heat and utilities, critical medical expenses, and more.

We were humbled by this show of support, and it was entirely made possible thanks to a great number of concerned citizens in the community. You stepped up with gifts to fellow Westerly-area organizations, like the WARM Center, Stand Up for Animals, and Westerly Land Trust.

In the past year, we’ve seen our community come through time and time again, responding to our calls for help by opening your hearts and wallets. You’ve made it possible for our work to continue and for our staff to remain employed.

401Gives Day returns again on April 1, and we hope our community keeps the Jonnycake Center of Westerly — and all of our other great area nonprofits — in mind when considering a gift. All donations, no matter the size, make a positive difference. In fact, every $1 we receive allows us to acquire 10 pounds of food. Any amount directly benefits a local adult or child in need.

On April 1, we encourage you to visit our page on 401Gives.org, or connect with us at jonnycake.org or 401-315-4584.

Thank you for being there for us so that we could be there for our community!

Matt Levy

Westerly

The writer is the social media and marketing manager at the Jonnycake Center of Westerly.

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