Generous support: Community Care Center lends helping hand during pandemic

The Community Care Center has served about 3,000 individuals with meals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pictured are (front row) manager Ashley Pruitt, executive director Melanie Lohman, volunteer Ciara Folkerts, food pantry worker Breanna Miller, volunteer Mike Schneider, (back row) volunteer Darlene Reed and soup kitchen worker Faith Dunnavant.

When the coronavirus pandemic began in March, Melanie Lohman made sure the Community Care Center continued serving individuals and families in Madison County.

“It was one of those (things) where there was no way we could not work,” the executive director said. “There are too many people who depend on us for food. So we had to strategically come up with a plan to make sure the needs of those people were still being met.”

So far, the nonprofit organization at 1818 Cleveland Blvd. in Granite City has been busy during the pandemic, serving food to about 3,000 individuals. Lohman said during March, it served 1,711 individuals for the food pantry, 685 for the soup kitchen and 105 for senior citizens.

“We had somewhat of a strategic plan in place to help accommodate the families who couldn’t get out,” she said. “We actually did a lot more deliveries. It wasn’t just the elderly. We always did the senior boxes, but we opened up to have deliveries for people without transportation, the elderly people with disabilities, single parents and pregnant mothers, so we would take the food box to them and deliver it.”

Lohman said she and her staff found a way to serve food in the soup kitchen without making contact with the individuals.

“What we did was instead of allowing them all in the building because I need to keep me, my staff and the volunteers safe, we served them a sacked lunch,” she said. “Some days, we still have hot food for them in to-go containers and they come through and get it that way.”

The center received a $24,000 grant from the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, a community coalition fund housed at the St. Louis Community Foundation.

“That is to go to food expense,” Lohman said. “If we start to run scarce on something, then we can use it for payroll and utilities and things that will keep us going during this time.”

The organization also got help from Illinois Electric Works.

“They’re our second-biggest funder on top of United Way,” Lohman said. “Dale Hamil is the owner and their employees donate something out of their check and the organization actually matches it.”

The center, which has just four paid staff members, had plenty a lot of volunteers helping out, including Kim and Larry Lacefield of Restoration Church in Granite City.

“They came in and have been a huge part of delivery and the food pantry process for us,” Lohman said. “Through all of this, we ended up having a total of 89 volunteers within the month of March.”

Mod Pizza in Edwardsville rewarded the staff for its hard work by donating 20 pizzas on April 15.

“Mod Pizza let all of the different locations donate 20 pizzas to the nonprofit of their choice,” Lohman said. “Patty, the manager at the Edwardsville Mod Pizza, chose us.”

Lohman, who has been the center’s executive director since August 2018, said she hopes the pandemic ends soon.

“I always say, ‘God’s got this, and we will get through it,’” she said.

For more information, call (618) 876-8770.

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