Jonnycake Center of Westerly

A nonprofit organization

Dear friends and supporters,

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a catastrophic effect on our community, and the situation led to a huge spike in client visits and assistance requests. 

For those learning about the Jonnycake Center of Westerly, we are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization located in Westerly, RI. Our organization offers, among other services:

  1. A Social Services office, offering emergency financial assistance for rent and mortgages, heating and utilities, medical bills, and other critical expenses
  2. A Food Pantry, with numerous programs to ensure nutrition for individuals, families, and children
  3. Volunteer Opportunities for adults and teens in the community
  4. A Giving Garden, located in Charlestown, RI, that provides sustainably-sourced fresh produce for our own Food Pantry and pantries of peer agencies
  5. A public-facing Thrift Store, open to the public 7 days per week, with proceeds supporting our Social Services office and Food Pantry
  6. Public fundraising events
  7. Holiday-specific programming for children and adults
  8. A seasonal no-cost Farmer's Market, open to the public
  9. Community initiatives, including food and supply drives, winterwear giveaways for clients, and more
  10. Education and vocational training for unemployed/underemployed adults (temporarily paused due to the pandemic)

It is our mission to serve those in need, but the challenge has been great. By the beginning of March 2020, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were all aware of the growing health crisis but still felt as if our corner of the world might yet be spared and safe. That changed very rapidly over the following weeks.

As the fallout surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic hit some of Washington County’s most vulnerable residents, the Center faced increased demand for our services while also quickly adapting our operations to help protect our clients, staff, and volunteers from the virus.       

Because of the risk of infection, we had to temporarily close our Thrift Store, the financial driver for over 50% of the Center’s revenue and where most of the Center’s staff are employed. This closure resulted in a loss of approximately $200,000 in proceeds that could have supported our on-site Food Pantry and Social Services efforts.

We took numerous steps to continue serving our community while protecting the most vulnerable. We redeveloped our Food Pantry model away from Full Client Choice – where clients had been welcome to shop for themselves in the Pantry – to a Staff Service model, where Pantry staff restricted client entry into the Pantry and instead provided clients with their food requests at the Pantry entrance. The Social Services office redeveloped its own service model in order to continue meeting and serving clients, albeit with a new emphasis on social distancing and remote meetings.     

Similarly, in 2020, we transformed our weekly seasonal no-cost Farmer’s Market into a “drive-through” style process. Food Pantry staff offered pre-sorted, pre-bagged fresh produce to visitors who waited in their vehicles. The community sincerely appreciated our commitment to continuing service in a socially distant, responsible manner.         

This “drive-through” system was so successful that our Social Services team used it again for a School Supply Giveaway in August. In November, when many other service agencies canceled their holiday programs, Jonnycake staff knew we had to find a way to offer our signature Adopt-a-Family gift and meals program. We adapted the “drive-through” system for Adopt-a-Family clients, and were able to provide financial assistance for gifts and meals to 498 local children and 1,214 southern Rhode Island residents in 2020.      

Summer 2021 brought a hint of a return to “normalcy,” but as we turn from fall to winter, the challenge remains for how Jonnycake can continue to serve our community.       

We were thrilled to restore the weekly Farmer’s Market to its traditional walk-up service model, and our Food Pantry and Social Services teams have resumed allowing clients back into the Food Pantry and Social Services office. While we are overjoyed to connect in-person again with clients, the Center faces lingering restrictions that affect our ability to serve. Our Thrift Store maintains a smaller cap on the number of shoppers allowed inside, reducing the store’s fundraising potential. Social Services and the Pantry continue to adjust how many clients they can serve at once. Staffing shortages and the cancelation of most public fundraising events since 2020 still diminish our capacity to properly fundraise and offer services to our neighbors.

We are optimistic that we will eventually return to a pre-pandemic level of capability, but we also understand that normal is still a distance away. Your support allows us to continue to serve the most vulnerable. 

Organization Data

Summary

Organization name

Jonnycake Center of Westerly

Tax id (EIN)

05-0367687

Categories

Economic Development Humanitarian Aid Emergencies

Address

23 Industrial Drive
Westerly, RI 02891

Phone

4013778069

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