A challenge as big as changing the world | Columns

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CHOOSE YOUR CHOICE GIFT CARD OFFER TODAY


CHOOSE YOUR CHOICE GIFT CARD OFFER TODAY

Inflation and steep gas prices decimate household budgets. More Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck. Neighbors with lower incomes suffer economic pain disproportionately.

Badger Prairie Needs Network (BPNN) is serving more people than ever. By the end of this month, just halfway through 2022, we expect to serve 16,000 individuals. In comparison, we served just over 19,000 individuals in all of 2021. At this rate, we can expect to serve 70% more individuals by the end of the year.

CHOOSE YOUR CHOICE GIFT CARD OFFER TODAY

Since January, there’s been a 30% increase in households. Children and seniors are 45% of the 2,700 people we served in May. In 63% of households we serve, at least one adult is working. Many have two jobs.

These are not merely numbers. We easily ignore numbers. These are people.

CHOOSE YOUR CHOICE GIFT CARD OFFER TODAY

They are neighbors. They are friends. They serve us in local businesses. They are us.

CHOOSE YOUR CHOICE GIFT CARD OFFER TODAY

Drive by BPNN (1200 E. Verona Ave.) any Thursday or Saturday morning and see more than a dozen cars in the curbside pick-up line, some waiting over an hour for the pantry to open. No, these are not merely numbers.

On second thought, don’t just drive by. Stop in. Learn more about our 100% volunteer grassroots effort to fight poverty and end hunger. BPNN began 36 years ago in a church basement. We now have a beautiful building, serving our community with dignity.

We’ve added community meals, food recovery to reduce wasted food, regional food assistance to other food pantries, and a Joining Forces for Families social worker on site. Stop in and see how our wonderful volunteers help our neighbors, with kindness and empathy, in a spirit of joyful service.

We serve all of Dane County. In partnership with Dane County, we’ve constructed new space for training and learning. One important use of the addition will be technical training, including commercial drivers’ licenses, ServSafe manager certification, OSHA, all through the Latino Academy of Workforce Development. Employment is an antidote to poverty.

But we’re just getting started.

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BPNN continues to forge vital partnerships. We have benefitted from the great support of Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, Governor Tony Evers, Congressman Mark Pocan, United Way, Second Harvest, many local businesses, the Verona Area School District, the faith community, and a team of more than 1,100 volunteers second to none. Shared success is sweeter than anything we do alone.

But we can’t do any of this without you, our community. Volunteerism flourishes in capital campaigns, food drives, and more. In our sometimes cynical world, some think empathy is dying. They are wrong.

Become part of the BPNN family to join our community at its best – serving others, knowing that the humanity that unites us is stronger than any force that might divide us.

If you’re wondering where to start to get involved, sign up online at BPNN.org to attend an orientation. Tell us how much time you can donate, what skills you bring, and we will help you maximize those gifts in service to others.

There are jobs for everyone: greeting guests, filling orders, stocking shelves, preparing produce, writing grants, helping in the business office, picking up donations at partner grocery stores, coordinating events, and so many more.

Summer is a great time for students 14 and older to jump in. If you have a group that wants to volunteer together, we have food repackaging shifts Wednesday evenings and Friday afternoons convenient for work schedules.

This fall, we’ll bring back the Saturday Community Meal, another fun, great service opportunity. We are always looking for community members who can share their leadership and business skills. In short, BPNN is a place for anyone willing to make time to give back to our community and develop their own skills.

Monetary donations are also needed, now more than ever. Basics in short supply include pasta, peanut butter, breakfast cereal, toilet paper, laundry detergent, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. We accept donations via check, PayPal, and Venmo. And every dollar you give goes to our mission. We have no paid employees. We are 100% volunteer.

As we leave pandemic times behind, there is fresh energy at BPNN. The new addition is nearly complete, and a grand opening is in the works for later this summer. We are growing our board of directors, reorganizing responsibilities, and reassessing financial policies, getting ready for a burst of activity.

But we can’t do anything without you. Please get involved and stay involved. Make a positive difference in your community. BPNN and your neighbors need you.

As you enter our front door, you’ll see a quote from Margaret Mead that eloquently captures BPNN: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”



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