Windsor nonprofit aids community

Published 10:27 pm Thursday, March 11, 2010

One outreach group is doing its part to lend a helping hand to its neighbors in need.

While the Community Harvest Outreach, which is just over three years old, may be based in Windsor, 50 percent of the people it helps are from Suffolk.

“We’ve been able to help a large amount of people get on their feet, get jobs and get clothes to go on interviews,” said Laequinla Hunter, chairman of the organization’s board. “We want to give back to the community — see peace and restoration in families, a smile on the elderly’s faces and know people are getting their medication and eating well.”

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Volunteers at the nonprofit Community Harvest Outreach educate and inform low-income families about how to overcome their various obstacles.

Organizers realized the need for the organization after seeing some of the problems facing members of their community.

“We saw the need in our community,” Hunter said. “Families were choosing between food and heat, and senior citizens weren’t eating properly and having medical problems.”

The organization helps the community by conducting toy drives, winter coat distributions and providing $2,500 in scholarships each year. Other services offered include classes in the arts and business planning, a youth program, provision of school supplies and emergency assistance paying bills.

The center is also open two days a week to provide people with food and other services.

“In those two days, we service between 100 and 200 people,” Hunter said. “Since we began, our numbers have tripled.”

“We’ll help anyone who is unemployed, elderly, a single parent, just out of jail, homeless, without clothes or food — the list goes on,” Hunter said.

The center also helps cancer patients and those on dialysis.

“We want to help them get proper nourishment while they’re on medication,” Hunter said.

There are no qualifications that have to be met or hoops to jump through at Community Harvest.

“All we ask is people bring in an ID,” Hunter said. “That’s it.”

The volunteers also deliver to those with serious needs.

“And if for some reason we’re unable to help you, we can refer you to someone who can,” she said.

“In our area, we have a lot of people in the paper mill who have been laid off,” Hunter said. “They’re the same people who’ve given us donations in the past. We want to make sure those services they have are here for them now. We count it a privilege to help.”

While the center does its share of helping, it is always looking to bring in able hands.

“It’s a chance to get involved and make a difference,” Hunter said. “If you can’t give money or other things, time is just as valuable of a resource. If you can change one life, it’s worth it.”

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