By Jennifer Pauly
Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce
The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce will honor businesses and individuals at its annual Chamber Awards Gala from 6-11 p.m. Friday, April 28, at The Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls.
The chamber's series of profiles on the 2017 gala honorees continues.
Town of Porter Citizens of the Year Claudia Fleckenstein & Ellie Murphy
Claudia Fleckenstein and Ellie Murphy have been chosen by Supervisor Merton Wiepert and the Town of Porter Council as the 2017 Town of Porter Citizens of the Year. This year, two recipients were chosen, because of their unwavering support and volunteer hours given to the Care-n-Share Food pantry that serves our local community.
As residents of the Town of Porter, Ellie and Claudia realized poverty extends outside of city locations and there was a growing need in the rural areas close to home.
The Care-n-Share Food Pantry in Ransomville started in 2010 at the Ransomville Free Methodist Church, in cooperation with the Food Bank of WNY. The pantry was located at the church for a few years before it required a larger space to help the increasing number of families in need of services. It moved to the current location at 3628 Ransomville Road in 2015.
Ellie has been a mainstay of the organization from the beginning and leads the operations of the pantry. She remembers every face and name and likes getting to know those who utilize the services the pantry provides. Ellie devotes countless hours behind the scenes at the pantry during the week, taking care of the many details.
Claudia signed up to volunteer through a program at Niagara University, originally dedicating one to two Saturdays per month. It wasn't long before she was recruited to serve on the board of directors.
For the past five years, Claudia has spearheaded the Ransomville Festival of Wreaths, including the celebration of the event's 25th anniversary.
Claudia and Ellie are members of the board of Inter-Community Services Inc., the 501 (c)(3) organization that oversees Care-n-Share Food Pantry. The board, which they emphasized is a "working" board, is filled with civic-minded individuals who all volunteer with the pantry and take the lead for other services provided, such as the annual school supply giveaway and holiday baskets.
The pantry provides food for those who qualify in Ransomville, Sanborn, Youngstown and Lewiston. As a "choice" pantry, clients choose the groceries and items that are needed based on their family size. Ellie said she enjoys offering suggestions for meals, and has thoughtfully prepared recipes based on the food items that are delivered that week.
Claudia and Ellie take great pride in making sure all feel comfortable when coming in for food. They stress volunteers are always needed and welcomed. The first qualification for volunteers is that they have to be friendly! A high level of confidentiality is also important. Volunteers are needed to stock shelves, as well as work during the days the pantry is open, and collect donations.
As the summer season approaches, help is also needed to collect donations every Tuesday in Lewiston before the Artpark concerts. Monetary and nonexpired food donations are always welcome (mail to Inter-Community Services, P.O. Box 401, Ransomville, NY 14131). More information can be found at www.carensharefoodpantry.com or by calling 716-245-0631.
The Food Bank of WNY provides the pantry with food at a much lower cost. Care-n-Share orders food from the Food Bank twice a month. In addition, it receives a monthly distribution of food from the USDA. Bread is donated weekly by the DiMino Tops Lewiston, and donations come in from various food drives and individuals.
One Saturday each month, the pantry hosts the Food Bank's Mobile Food Pantry, which offers a variety of fresh produce, meat and other items. Anyone who lives in the community can take advantage of this monthly distribution.
Care-n-Share is also the beneficiary of the annual local "Stamp Out Hunger" campaign with food collection through the Lewiston branch of the USPA. Regular supporters of the pantry include The Porter Empty Return Center; the Boy Scouts of Lewiston; the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce; the Lewiston Town Hall employees; Town of Porter; Town of Cambria; Lewiston-Porter schools; local businesses, such as DiMino's Tops Markets, Summit Pediatrics, Guard Contracting; local organizations; churches; and many individuals.
The Town of Porter is appreciative of the work of the entire Care-n-Share board, but in particular honors these two Town of Porter residents who put forth such an outstanding effort to make sure those in need in their community are assisted.
The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce, Wiepert and the Town of Porter councilmen are proud to honor Claudia and Ellie as the Town of Porter Citizens of the Year.
Lori Caso assisted in the assisted in the development of this chamber profile.