by CSFP Founders. Jessica Hixon and Amy McGregor-Radin
From Jessica: "The Trinity Episcopal Church is where a food pantry was initially proposed and we always had the support of the clergy and leadership. Volunteers were requested and that is when Rob (Schoek), Diane (Cochran) Joan (Brandmahl), and I all volunteered. Personally, I felt that God was calling me to do this. I had the time and I had an empty heart to give.
At our first meeting, we learned each other's gifts and attempted to structure our group so that we could research the feasibility of this food pantry. We were then asked who would be willing to run these meetings and ultimately the board. That is when I feel God raised my hand for me. Rob Schoek and I were co-leaders until his adventure into priesthood.
After the board was developed and the pantry was found to be feasible and needed, we developed teams and recruited additional volunteers to execute the work. Ultimately the space was built, the volunteers were brought together, bank accounts were opened, a parishioner volunteered her legal services to develop the 501 c 3. We were well on our way.
The food pantry opened January 11th 2011. It took shortly over a year to bring the idea to fruition. The initial meeting of the clergy and fellow parishioners was held in October of 2009. The board was developed in the months following and the calendar year of 2010 is when all of the hard work happened.
Amy was brought into this story sometime in 2010 and brought a face and life to the food pantry. Gradually during 2011, the board turned over the pantry to new hands. Amy was then the constant in the face of the pantry.
Although I have done many things with my life, opening the Centre Street Food Pantry has been a highlight of my heart."
From Amy: "Starting small suited the organization and we grew and adjusted as our shoppers came in greater numbers. After three months we were eligible to be members of the Greater Boston Food Bank and that was a game-changer. We shopped from their website and “marketplace” each week, depending on volunteers to pack their cars with frozen, dairy, fresh and canned goods and drive back to unload at the pantry. A freezer and refrigerator were added to store these items.
Our Board of Directors experience growing pains too, and over the next years new members helped CSFP begin to mature as an organization. We wrote a mission statement and subsequently created a list of Core Values, solidifying what makes CSFP unique and inviting to this day.
In no time the pantry outgrew the donated space at Trinity Church and we began to inquire about renting a different space from Trinity. Their Vestry, always supportive of our work and all that comes with it, agreed to rent us the former Choir Room and the space behind it. With help from volunteers and Eagle Scouts, our new, safer, brighter space opened in April of 2014. Natalie Surmeli came on board as our new Pantry Manager around the same time. She and a larger, energetic “working” Board of Directors launched CSFP into a new era, working with lots of other food collection partners, adding programs, and providing good nutritious food to hundreds more people per month than we thought possible in the beginning."