Nonprofit near schools presents volunteer opportunity

SOUTHINGTON — Educators and Bread for Life board members are already thinking of the volunteer opportunities for hundreds of students after a building for the non-profit was proposed on Main Street next to Derynoski School and the town’s alternative high school.

Director of Alta at the Pyne Center, Jess Levin, said the building’s location would be a “win-win” for the students and Bread for Life, which provides thousands of meals to low-income and elderly residents. Alta is the alternative high school in town located at 242 Main St. behind Derynoski School. There are between 50 and 60 students at Alta and nearly 700 students at Derynoski School.

“With the close proximity, I’m hoping that we will be able to have a partnership to have students go over and volunteer and earn community service hours and understand civic service,” Levin said. “I also know that some of my students and their families have benefited from their services. In my opinion, they are an outstanding program.”

Ten years ago Bread for Life started looking to run all of its services — which include a lunch program, food pantry and senior feeding program — out of a single facility. Bread for Life currently works out of five different locations, all of which are donated. At the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Tuesday night, a site plan application for a 3,200-sqaure-foot building was proposed for 296 Main St. to consolidate the five locations into one centralized area.

“The dining facility and the kitchen facility that we have now are way too small for our needs currently, but we manage,” said Bill McDougall, Bread for Life board chairman.

The kitchen is operated out of Masons Fellowship Hall. About 35,000 meals were served to the community last year.

The new one-and-a-half story building is slated to cost between $500,000 and $700,000 and would include a dining room, kitchen, food storage area and a conference room downstairs. Upstairs will have administrative space, McDougall said. The hope is to have it finished in a year.

Bread for Life will be campaigning for private donations and seeking state and federal grants to fund the project.

“The minute after it gets its approval by Planning and Zoning we have a capital committee and campaign formed and ready to go …” McDougall said. “and we will go full blast.”

In response to demand for more youth involvement, Bread for Life created Kids Who Care, a program made up of children under 16 that want to volunteer.

Kids Who Care advisor and board member Amy Fontaine said she can’t wait for the building to come to fruition so close to two schools.

“That was my initial reaction was this could be great and kids could do food drives and walk over and see how the food will be used and see how there is a need,” Fontaine said. “You live in a world where you don’t see these things and to see it at young age, it’s hard to forget.”

In years’ past Levin said students have gone to Bread for Life to volunteer and enjoyed it. With the recent news of the building, he also mentioned the possibility of having students participate for a few hours during the school day as part of a potential partnership.

“I’m very excited about it,” Levin said. (203) 317-2212 Twitter: @FollowingFarrah

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