The needs in the community have been different during the pandemic — but no less, according to Pamela Winebarger, whose Brookings Harbor Community Helpers have been trying to meet the challenge.
“The need has been great — the need has been different,” Winebarger said. “We started out 2021 just running.”
The nonprofit is in transition, working to expand its services to meet the basic needs of those in the community.
“We are here as community helpers. We (will) have a help center, and we have our food bank,” Winebarger said.
During the pandemic, Winebarger said her staff has noticed an expanding range of things their clients are in need of, as restaurants and other businesses close their doors and employees face unemployment.
Personal hygiene kits, diapers, warm coats, hats, gloves, menstrual products and bus passes for return trips to the food bank are all some of the things the nonprofit has added to the stuffed-full shelves in its office.
Masks and other COVID-19 personal protective equipment are important factors now, too.
“Not all places give them out for free,” Winebarger said.
The nonprofit has gotten help in the past year, too. A grant from the Oregon Health Authority is funding the organization’s work to provide care for those exposed to COVID-19 in south Curry County, Winebarger said.
And another grant has allowed the nonprofit to hire a Spanish interpreter. The value of being able to open its services to the Spanish-speaking population has been eye-opening, according to Winebarger.
“We saw a very big increase in people that needed services that were Hispanic,” she said. “When there’s that disconnect, you don’t know that.”
Both are part of the nonprofit’s plans to continue expanding its impact beyond just food bank shelves.
“These are some of the things we’re beginning to transform into more of what our true mission is, which is to help our community,” Winebarger said.
Still, the nonprofit is always seeking assistance. Donations can be made directly to the organization online at www.brookingsharborfoodbank.org/, or through a variety of partnership programs.
The nonprofit receives funds from the Kroger round-up program at Fred Meyer — the donation isn’t direct, but the store cuts a check each quarter, Winebarger said. Since 2019, the nonprofit’s received $67,000 through the program, she said.
The Community Helpers are also teaming up with the Brookings-Harbor High School class of 2021 Safe and Sober fundraising effort, which seeks to provide 2021 graduates safe graduation night activities. The two organizations are collecting cans and bottles to be returned.
The nonprofit and the Safe and Sober fundraiser will split the proceeds from bottle returns in February and March, Winebarger said. Cans and bottles can be donated at the nonprofit’s office, or at Curry Community Cares on Memory Lane Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Brookings Harbor Community Helpers food bank at 539 Hemlock Street is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The office at the same address is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
And as the needs of the community shift during the pandemic, the nonprofit has more changes in store to meet them, according to Winebarger.
“We’re growing, and we’re looking forward to that growth for our community,” she said.
This article was updated March 10 to correct the business hours listed.