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Interfaith gets a fundraising arm

Ocala, FL - November 16, 2011
Published in the Ocala Star-Banner on Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Tonight, officials will unveil the newly organized Interfaith Foundation of Marion County, a fundraising arm created to provide long-term financial stability for Interfaith Emergency Services.

Interfaith Emergency Services, which has its own board of directors, is a ministry that helps families in need, from sheltering to a food pantry, at its facility on Northwest Second Street.

Since Interfaith opened its doors in 1983, the agency's executive director has been in charge of running the operation and seeking out donations to help keep the facility solvent throughout the year.

Last December, Mike Mangan was hired as the first executive director of the newly organized Interfaith Foundation of Marion County. By April, Mangan had established the foundation's board of directors.

Interfaith Emergency Services' board is comprised of mostly people in the church community, while the Interfaith Foundation's board is comprised mostly of people in the business community.

Mangan said the foundation's mission is to start collecting donations and to identify planned legacy gifts.

The ultimate goal is to establish an endowment to create long-term financial stability for Interfaith Emergency Services, allowing officials and its board to focus on helping people, not raising money.

Tonight at Gateway Bank on Silver Springs Boulevard, the Interfaith Foundation and Interfaith Emergency Services, as well as members of both boards, will meet for introductions. It is an invitation-only event.

Karla Grimsley, Interfaith Emergency Service's executive director, said she is pleased that the foundation was created to one day create a steady stream of revenue to help Marion County's families in need.

The need for more financial stability was evident early this year when Grimsley approached Mangan about the fact the agency needed another refrigerated truck to pick up meats and vegetables that area supermarkets were donating.

Mangan said he spoke with the foundation board members, who immediately agreed that the role of the board was not only to provide long-term stability but also to help with immediate big-ticket needs.

Mangan said the board purchased a used six-pallet capacity refrigerated truck that will allow Interfaith to get even more food for area families.

Another example came in September, when Grimsley announced the agency's food pantry was nearly bare. The lagging economy led more people than expected to her doorstep for food assistance.

Once her plight hit the news, County Commissioner Mike Amsden proposed a countywide food drive. And that's how the Bring the Harvest Home drive was conceived.

The three-week drive began Oct. 4, prompting donations of more than 80,000 pounds of food.

Before the drive started, the agency had no food pallets in reserve. Today, the agency has 24 pallets in reserve with more food coming in. However, that may only get the agency through the holidays.

In hopes of avoiding food shortages next year, Grimsley has been working with Gerald Ergle, the former Ocala mayor. They are contacting local businesses, organizations and churches to sponsor one week each next year.

They hope to get 52 business to conduct food drives on different weeks so that there will be a steady flow of food coming into the large food pantry, which serves at least 1,000 families per month.

In a few weeks, about 10 businesses, organizations and churches have agreed to sponsor a week in 2012 to hold food drives to benefit the Interfaith Emergency Services food bank.

Kicking off the new year will be First Baptist Church, which had volunteered to do conduct a drive before Grimsley asked the community to adopt the week.

When Grimsley's plea for food went out in late September, First Baptist officials asked her if she needed their help immediately or after the holidays.

Grimsley said she needed food for after the holidays. Agencies interested in sponsoring a food drive for one week should contact Grimsley.

Some of the food at the Interfaith food pantry collected during the food drive
at Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala on Oct. 19.