A Meeting For Change
Throughout my time as an intern at the Bethlehem Center, many exciting things have happened! Each week is different than the last. Fortunately, I have been able to be a part of the beginning of the South Chattanooga Community Resource Project: a project that will benefit the community long after my time at the Beth ends.The idea for this project started as a simple meeting about finding and connecting food resources in the area with Karen Nichols, a Life Coach from Partnership For Families, Children, and Adults who serves Alton Park through the Beth. PFCA and the Beth recently started a food pantry after realizing the need surrounding our area.
The purpose of the meeting was to create a map of the food resources in the South Chattanooga area and to let the community know where these food resources can be found. Within our area, there are a few different agencies, churches, and nonprofits that have a food pantry or provide food boxes and vouchers. Likewise, we assumed that there were other food resources in the area that we didn’t know about. It was decided that the Bethlehem Center, in partnership with PFCA, BSL, and Karen, would host a meeting inviting community food resources to share information on their services and help us fill food services gaps in South Chattanooga.
Once the date was set and the event was made public, the word of this meeting spread farther than imagined. RSVPs came in from insurance agencies, city officials, churches, etc. Many that were interested in attending this meeting didn't have food support as a service but rather a wide variety of other services that would benefit our area if residents were aware of them. With so much interest in this meeting, the goal became to include every known resource in South Chattanooga, identifying resources and gaps in service.
On January 23rd the meeting took place at the Bethlehem Center. For an initial event, the turnout was awesome! The Chattanooga Food Bank, Metropolitan Ministries, YMCA, PFCA, Chattanooga Housing Authority, the City of Chattanooga, Signal Center, Alexian Brothers PACE, Westside Baptist Church, St Elmo U.M.C., and other agencies sent representatives to the meeting. Participants discussed resources, knowledge of resources, and brainstormed better ways to serve residents. This project has grown tremendously in the past few months and will only continue to grow in the months to come. I am very excited to see its outcome and I’m glad that I could be a small part of it!
Morgan is a senior at UTC planning to graduate with a degree in social work. She is currently the social work intern at the Bethlehem Center and loves getting to know youth in the Alton Park community. In her free time she enjoys antique shopping, hanging with friends, and playing volleyball.