Dear Friends of BEAM,

Spring is the season of new beginnings. Our gardeners plant seeds in Grace Garden, fresh buds bloom and the earth seems to come to life again. The timing of these changes varies depending upon location, and lucky for us, winter ended early because we have a busy 2017 ahead!

2016 was a year of adding facilities, staff and volunteers to better serve the community. With the expansion of our thrift operations to the new location at 7north, we are creating a sustainable revenue stream to help fund our programs. The addition of The Beaches Community Food Bank has significantly improved our ability to provide additional, fresher food to our own pantries and to other local agencies with food assistance programs. An impact summary of BEAM’s services in 2016 can be seen on the front page.

Also during 2016, our Board of Directors embarked on an ambitious strategic planning initiative. Over a period of months we evaluated our current service offerings and imagined how we could be better and more effective at meeting community need. The result is a significant shift in how we look at assistance.

The reality is that people come to us hungry. But hunger is often a symptom of other things; poverty, underemployment, illness that prevents working and a host of other issues. People come to us unable to pay their rent or utility bill when previously they managed. The “emergency” is often a symptom; legal issues, a significant car repair, or a simple lack of financial skills. Beginning in 2017, BEAM will begin to move away from solely providing “emergency” financial assistance to a model that includes evaluation and case management for those who may benefit. This is a fundamental shift in approach and engages the client in creating their own solutions with our help. We will also require a basic financial management course for anyone seeking assistance for a second time. We believe that these enhancements to our current programs will help us to affect real change in people’s lives and not just a “band-aid” approach to emergency assistance.

But, to be sure, none of the accomplishments of the past or the successes of the future would be possible without the extraordinary support of this community. Whether through financial support, volunteer support, or donations to our food pantries and thrift stores, BEAM is able to serve those in need because of YOU. Please know that every day I feel the blessings of your generosity and am truly grateful.

Susan King