Neighbor to Neighbor Launches “Fill the Build” Campaign

As the new Neighbor to Neighbor building at 248 East Putnam Ave is constructed over the summer, Neighbor to Neighbor will take this time to honor the people who had the vision and were the major force in getting Neighbor to Neighbor where it is today. From now until mid-November their stories will be shared and their generosity celebrated.

In the giving spirit of the Neighborhood Champions, Neighbor to Neighbor is launching the “Fill the Build” campaign, inviting the entire community to help people in need by filling the interior space and contributing towards purchasing fresh and shelf-stable food, chairs, tables, and shelves.

The campaign will run through November 2021. It is being co-chaired by Lori Jackson and John Cooper, both experienced community fundraising volunteers and committed supporters of Neighbor to Neighbor.

“We’re excited to offer the community the opportunity to fill the building and open the doors to people in need,” Ms Jackson said.

“We welcome everyone’s participation,” Mr. Cooper said.  “A donation in any amount is most welcome. We want everyone in Greenwich to feel like a part of this neighborhood project.”

For more info or to make a donation:

Pam Kelly, Bev Jomo, and Mary Cattan. Contributed photo

A small group of passionate, generous women were the original seeds that are bringing Neighbor to Neighbor into its much-needed future.

In 1975, a small group of women, including Mary Cattan and Ann Westerfield, and the late Jane Fleming, started Neighbor to Neighbor in the basement of Christ Church Greenwich.

They redistributed linens, towels, gently used clothing and supplies. Ten years later, the Greenwich Department of Social Services asked them to initiate a weekly food program.

After 36 years in the same underground basement spaces, Pam Kelly stepped forward to make the commitment to figure out how to build a new, dedicated space for clients, volunteers and staff, to work and accept donations, and to further Neighbor to Neighbor’s mission of creating an atmosphere of kindness and respect. Pam put a detailed plan in place, got approvals from the Christ Church vestry, and took her presentation on the road.

At the same time, First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich had received a bequest from long-time parishioner, Edna Anderson, and the church’s Mission Committee was considering how to best honor her request to distribute funds to non-profits. One of the Mission Committee members was Bev Jomo, who had heard about Pam Kelly’s request for funding. It was a model of alliance and generosity of spirit for one church to offer funding to a program located at another church in town, appreciating the need to assist people who are struggling financially.

Once the Mission Committee made their decision, Bev was chosen to deliver the good news. A pledge of $100,000 was made in 2015 to Neighbor to Neighbor if and when the plan came to fruition. This first gift of seed money was monumental in the ability to raise further funding. The bequest was committed when the celebratory groundbreaking finally happened in December of 2020.

The building is on its way to completion and due to open their doors in
November 2021.

The Need in Greenwich:
Over the course of the pandemic, there has been an unprecedented increase in need for access to nutritious food, even as the pandemic slowly eases. Hunger and food insecurity affect many people in Greenwich: 20%+ of residents lack the income needed to cover basic necessities, and 28% of Greenwich Public School students qualify for free or subsidized lunches. Experiencing food insecurity at a young age can have lasting effects on children’s development, health and well-being, especially if families have to choose between food and medical care.

Neighbor to Neighbor staff and volunteers have been providing food assistance to approximately 525 Greenwich family households each week, working out of temporary space at North Greenwich Congregational Church while the building is under construction.

Neighbor to Neighbor is an independent 501c3 non-profit organization that seeks to improve the lives of financially challenged residents throughout the Greenwich area. Individual clients have been recommended by social services or another organization and come to Neighbor to Neighbor by appointment.

The spacious, light-filled environment is ADA compliant and has many sustainable design features: energy-super-insulated building envelope, high-efficiency heating and cooling system, and LED lighting throughout.

The building is designed for smooth, easy and safe accessibility. Neighbor to Neighbor offers nutritious canned goods and fresh groceries to promote health and well-being. In the new space, they plan to gradually transition the food pantry back to their existing client choice model and continue with special distributions (other than food) throughout 2021 including children’s jackets, pajamas, sheets, blankets, towels, healthcare and personal hygiene products, and detergent.