WAYLAND — Lighthouses have often been a symbol of hope for those tossed in a stormy sea, so it is a perfect place for a food pantry.
Other churches over the 40-year-history have housed the food pantry for the community, such as Wayland Methodist Church and Wayland Seventh Day Adventist Church. In 1977, a group of clergy and other volunteers discussed the importance of having a food pantry in town. Recently the Wayland Lighthouse Wesleyan Church has taken over the task of housing the Lighthouse Food Pantry, formerly known as The Wayland Kitchen Cupboard at Wayland Town Hall.
Mary Clark was voted in as the first director 40 years ago, and has been a huge help to the community ever since.
Now that honor falls on Rose Craig, and she is happy to follow in Clark’s footsteps.
Craig is very grateful to Seventh Day Adventist Church for housing the food pantry, before the move to Lighthouse Wesleyan Church.
“People have trouble getting up and down the stairs,” she said. “We have an elevator here, so it is wheelchair accessible. They had the space here, and actually did a lot of redesigning for the food pantry.”
There are 15 volunteers that keep the food pantry up and running, and about 80 families are benefiting from the service now.
Families must be in the Wayland-Cohocton Central District to qualify for the Lighthouse Food Pantry, and come with proof of the amount of children in their household. The amount of good given goes hand in hand with the amount of people in the family.
It will be open Wednesday, Nov. 22 and Nov. 29 from 3 to 6 p.m. New hours will be established Dec. 6 with Wednesdays 4:30 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 9 to 10:30 a.m.
There are local donations from Wayland Dollar General, Wayland CVS, and Greater Tater.
“We have huge community support for the food pantry,” Craig said. “I reach out to stores and ask for donations to the local food pantry. They donate when we have a need.”
Craig let people know months in advance there would be a change in location for the food pantry, and many have enjoyed the new location.
“There are so many people in need in this community,” she said. “They recognized that back in the 1970s.”
The food is offered once a month per-family, so that everyone has a chance to get something.
The Southern Tier Food Bank supplies the food along with the bread from Tops Friendly Markets. The food includes canned vegetables and fruits, whole grain products, meat and non-meat products, and some misc. Items.
There needs to be proof of address, photo identification, and something to validate how many children you have when you go to the food pantry.
“People love it here,” Craig said. “We are in the center of town.”
Once it came up for someone to take over the responsibility of the local food pantry, Craig jumped onboard. Clark passed her torch onto Craig a couple years ago.
It is very important to the church community to have a place for people to go, and three churches have taken on that task in the Wayland community over the years.
“We can feed people not only physically, but spiritually as well. That is what it is all about,” Craig said. “This is a meeting area, so people can relax while they wait for their turn. We walk them through, and help them stick to the guidelines.”
Lighthouse Wesleyan Church Pastor Cheryl Parker said Clark started this a long time ago with her friends, and it is important to keep that legacy alive.
“We were contacted to help out the food pantry,” Parker said. “It is a lot of work. Clark did a fantastic job with this, and we have learned the ropes from her. Rose is doing a great job taking over. Rose’s team is a group of hardworking people.”
Parker said she and her husband, Pastor Rob Parker, are meant to interact with the community.
“Rose had an amazing vision of what this could be for the community,” Cheryl Parker said. “Seventh Day Adventist was very generous to help us, and we are so grateful to them.”
Cheryl Parker said the choice to make the redesign for the food pantry was a great move for the church.
“The heart of our ministry is to be the light for the community,” she said. “God has opened up and opportunity for us to do that.”
Rob Parker said he wants to bring hope to the community, and light the way home for people.
“It took us about a year to get this done,” he said. “The food pantry would not have survived all these years without the help of so many great people. Everyone who has worked on this from the beginning has done a phenomenal job. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Cheryl Parker said the overall goal is have people leave the food pantry with more than just groceries.
“We hope when they leave here it is with more than just groceries,” she said. “I want them to know they are loved, and they have a friend. The food pantry is a great way for us to be part of the community. They can make special memories.”
There is a store-like feel in the food pantry, as the families make their way through the isles. The food is for one-person households as well, or two-people households. You don’t have to have children in order to qualify. Many people have donated some food items to the pantry as well. In the summer local farmers can donate fresh produce to the pantry. The Wayland Post Office and Wayland Boy Scouts have done food drives for the pantry as well. All help is much appreciated by the Lighthouse Food Pantry.
Lighthouse Food Pantry is located in the back of Lighthouse Wesleyan Church at 101 South Lackawanna Street. It can be reached at 585-736-7586. You can find more information at http://www.discoverlighthouse.org/