By Jean Clark
Neighbors Together is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established in 2001. Their programs assist with food, utilities, education and other needs. Their services cover a wide area in both western Cumberland County and eastern White County. Their board members and volunteers come from these areas as well as the Uplands Village in Pleasant Hill.
This past year, Neighbors Together leased a house at 10005 West Main Street in Pleasant Hill. Much work needed doing to whip the premises into shape. Many hours by local volunteers were spent cleaning, painting, hammering, building and organizing until they were able to move the offices and food pantry into this site. In July, junior and high school students from Missouri provided young strong muscles to help their effort. On Nov. 16 an open house was held with lots of tasty goodies so that its clientele, new neighbors and volunteers could tour the facilities.
The food pantry provides those in need with an emergency three-day supply of food. The food boxes are distributed once each week through the work of volunteers. Items include non-perishables such as canned fruits and vegetables, cereal and soups as well as fresh milk, bread, and eggs.
The B4Books program monitors early cognitive, emotional and language development of infants. A parent trainer distributes toy kits, meeting with the parents to instruct on how the items in each kit can be used to nurture their child’s development. If delays are identified, referrals are made to appropriate community services.
The May Cravath Wharton Association provides funds for outreach into the surrounding areas. Through the Neighbors Together Office requests for assistance with utilities such as gas, water and electricity are verified.
Holiday programs provide gifts to children during the season. The Dollar General Market in Crossville provides space for an old Victorian Saint Nicholas and Mrs. Claus to sit for photos. These pictures can be purchased with money or donations of toys to be used in the other holiday projects.
A Santa’s Workshop Christmas Party was held Dec. 23 for local children in the Pleasant Hill Community House. Santa's Workshop is fun for all and allows children a visit and photo with Santa, a special gift and lots of activities and treats. Traditionally, on Christmas Eve, Santa and his elves go door-to-door to visit local children and families in their homes bringing gifts and stockings full of goodies. Santa and Mrs. Claus often visit the “elders” in Fletcher House and Wharton Homes as well.
Easter baskets and other holiday meals are provided when needed. A special program called Neighbors Helping Neighbors provides a supply of household items, clothing or bedding for emergency situations. The main goal of Neighbors Together is to build community. Often people do not have money to give but of far greater value is their time through volunteering. Another important aspect of Neighbors Together services is providing support to community members in need by linking them to available community resources in the county or state.
The Neighbors Together office is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Contact them by calling 277-5088 or on Facebook at www/facebook.com/pages/Neighbors-Together/395578857170149.
Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."