Many volunteers, community members contribute to friendly environment
HOLLEY – Whether providing free holiday food boxes or a free lunch, or just offering a place for friendly conversation, the Eastern Orleans Community Center is a vibrant program of Community Action of Orleans and Genesee.
The center, led by coordinator Debbie Rothmund, provides a variety of services to the community, including an emergency food pantry, daily meals, free holiday food baskets, free clothing, family development/case management services, public access to computers with internet and more.
With all this, many of the people who visit the center, like a woman named Patti, come every day for the socialization.
“And the food is always good,” she said.
The Eastern Orleans Community Center partners with several local agencies to fight poverty and hunger on the eastern end of the county. These include FEMA Pro, St. Vincent de Paul from Rochester, Food Link and The Salvation Army.
Annette Finch, director of emergency services at Community Action, praised the cooperation from local organizations and people, such as the National Honor Society members at Holley High School. Last week they came to the center to fold boxes and help give out 60 Thanksgiving food boxes.
“We do it every year,” said high school senior Julia Buck.
Senior Kasey DeFrank said she likes to do it to help the community.
Rod Skehan, local treasurer for the St. Vincent de Paul Society, said they have been involved for 40 years. They had always done some drive at Thanksgiving at their church, but with change in the laws, they now partner with the Community Center to provide Thanksgiving dinner to needy families.
“Through donations to our society, we are able to purchase turkeys, milk and bread to distribute to the families,” he said. “We utilize the Honor Society to tie it in with the community.”
Finch said it is amazing what Rothmund does at the center. They average 750 meals a month, serving daily at 11:30 a.m. They play bingo on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“Through the pandemic shutdown, we never stopped,” Rothmund said. “We did take-outs instead.”
Rothmund, who has been at the Community Center for almost 20 years, also makes regular phone calls to the shut-ins to make sure they are alright.
The food pantry serves 60 families a month and food distributions benefit 600 households annually.
Patty’s Boutique next door provides free clothing, all of which is donated, to anyone. Volunteer Julie Tranello works at the boutique. The Center’s affiliation with The Salvation Army helps people facing eviction, utility shutoffs or needing prescriptions.
The center is always looking for volunteers, such as Kerri Glover, new owner of Maison Albion (formerly the Pillars) on County House Road in Albion, and her venue coordinator Maria Fernandez. Kerri, her husband Cole and son Benjamin, 12, visited the center last week, where Kerri volunteered to help serve lunch.
After purchasing the Pillars, the Glovers were looking for a non-profit agency to support, and she learned about Community Action. After meeting with Finch, she asked where she could volunteer. Maison Albion is planning a grand opening celebration on Dec. 12 and will be doing a fundraiser for Community Action at that event, which will be in-person and virtual.
The Eastern Orleans Community Center welcomes all residents. Finch’s invitation is to “Stop by, meet our friendly staff, get answers to your questions, have a cup of coffee, play a game of cards or bingo or just have fun.”
The Center is located at 75 Public Square in Holley.