By Janice Elizabeth Berte, Contributing Writer
Region – On a beautiful street in Natick sits a lovely Cape home that houses food and other essentials for people in financial distress. Inside this special place is the location of a nonprofit program called A Place to Turn. This program was established in 1979, and originally started in the private home of Joe and Edna Gillis who recognized the hardships that exist in the suburbs. They felt that this issue is not exclusively an urban problem. Seeing the need for so many people, the site was then moved to the grounds of the Hartford Street Presbyterian Church at 99 Hartford St.
Joanne Barry, executive director of A Place to Turn said, “We serve about 12,000 people per year, and provide all of our clients with the most nutritious and fresh foods possible. Most of our clients visit about 2.5 times each year, and then get on their feet.”
One of the patrons said, “The cost of oil has created a great hardship for our family. When we go to A Place to Turn, all of the staff are very welcoming and friendly. This place provides us with a sense of relief because my family will have healthy choices for several weeks.”
In addition to being a food pantry, A Place to Turn has a new project called, The Diaper Project. This project helps referred families receive up to two weeks of diapers every 60 days. Diapers are a vital part of a child’s wellbeing and health, and the monthly cost per child can average anywhere from $75 to $100. Food stamp programs and WIC do not cover the cost of diapers. This expense can force parents to reuse soiled diapers longer than what is appropriate. Unfortunately, a lot of parents juggle between food, medicine and clean babies. And, as the baby grows, they are not allowed to attend any daycare or early childhood programs without diapers.
This program also has volunteers who work with churches, businesses, schools and civic groups to collect the diapers.
According to volunteer Eva Russell, “This program allows me to help my community in the most basic of ways. I have seen the relief on the faces of clients who leave our pantry with bags of groceries to feed their families.”
A Place to Turn is located in Natick and provides services to the following communities: Hudson, Marlborough, Northborough and Westborough.
For more information, contact A Place to Turn at 508-655-8868 or [email protected].