By Christine Galeone, Contributing Writer
Westborough – On a recent late-summer morning, Tom Slicklen stood outside the Living Word Church in Worcester, clipboard in hand, overseeing a large delivery being loaded off a truck. In the many boxes in the truck were brand-new socks – 50,000 pairs – donated by the company, Bombas. Carefully checking his spreadsheet, Slicklen, along with employees of the church, sorted the boxes for their final destinations, which would include homeless shelters, outreach groups and veterans’ facilities throughout the state.
The initiative is just one example of the work Slicklen does as the head of Provision Ministry, the Westborough nonprofit which he founded in 2017.
Provision Ministry connects corporations, churches and other organizations and individuals that have funds, goods or services to donate with the nonprofits that need their donations. Those donations then benefit underserved families and children, veterans, immigrants, refugees, people struggling with addiction, and the homeless.
The organization – which in spite of its name is not affiliated with any particular denomination – will have provided an astounding $2 million worth of goods to Massachusetts nonprofits by the end of this year, according to Slicklen.
A commitment and compassion for others
What’s truly amazing is that Slicklen runs the ministry with only a very small support staff. His faith sustains him in his work, he said, because he knows that without the grace of God, he, too, could be in the same situation as many of the people he helps.
Slicklen, who lives in Westborough, had a successful career in the corporate world before working as the New England area director for World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization, and then the director of development for Straight Ahead Ministries, a nonprofit that strives to reduce re-incarceration among young offenders.
He has a buoyant personality, a positive nature and, above all, a strong faith in God.
But it was not always that way, he said.
“I grew up around alcoholism, drug addiction and mental illness,” Slicklen shared. “My family life was so dysfunctional. I myself struggled so much until I found God.”
As he traveled internationally, he saw “unbelievable poverty.” Closer to home, he saw, and continues to see, people in great need.
“I have seen poverty in third world countries, have served in soup kitchens, and have great empathy for those who have lost hope and are suffering,” he added. “I also came to realize that there was a unique need for someone to provide resources to support nonprofits focused on helping the homeless, veterans, refugees and other underserved people.”
Provision Ministry – connecting donors to benefit those in need
The ministry fulfills its mission, he noted, by introducing businesses that want to give back to nonprofits that need them – as it did for Life Connection Center soup kitchen in Lowell and Seoul Kitchen, a restaurant in Westford – and by organizing Pack Building Events where teams assemble packs of supplies for groups such as underprivileged students, low-income families, veterans and the homeless. Pack Building is a powerful way for organizations to bond and instill teamwork while helping those in need. On the Provision Ministry website, there are short video clips of the many businesses and groups that have participated in these events.
Established partnerships have empowered Provision Ministry to make a positive difference in the lives of many who are in desperate need of assistance, such as the one with Bombas.
“The lack of socks is of particular concern for those who are homeless,” Slicklen said, noting that walking is their primary method of transportation and foot problems are common.
“In addition, the homeless lack access to health services for foot problems,” he added. “That’s why the right socks and footwear are critical.”
Future hopes and plans
Going forth, Slicklen hopes that his nonprofit will be able to reach beyond Massachusetts’ borders to help people throughout New England. It has already facilitated the delivery of care packs for more than 11,000 people and has helped nonprofits such as Veterans, Inc. of Worcester, Hope for Worcester, the Springfield Rescue Mission and Clearway Clinic of Worcester.
“Currently, my biggest challenge is establishing credibility as a new nonprofit and identifying financial support partners,” he said.
“To facilitate growth, Provision needs donated warehouse space with loading docks and the capacity to receive and sort up to 53-foot containers of new inventory,” he added.
“There is so much need,” he said, “but also so many people who love and truly care about others and want to help.”
For more information about Provision Ministry, visit www.provisionministry.org.