It’s hard to believe that Papa’s Pantry’s 20th anniversary is here.
It began after a mission trip to India. The people were humble, hard-working, yet very poor. There was no government aide. Christianity was against the law, so there was no help available to fill in the gaps. Swarms of children begged in the street. It was clear, people struggled.
Coming back to the United States, I realized that people struggle here, too, even with all the resources available. I felt God’s nudge and “cupboard thing” began to resound in my spirit.
Papa’s Pantry started in my Eagle Watch home in August 1998. I took groceries to people’s homes evenings and weekends, around my work schedule. Having never worked in social services, I felt as if I was “winging it.” When I arrived with non-perishables, meat, milk and produce, I was able to open, unfortunately, many empty refrigerators and freezers.
Giving free food was easy, but it didn’t provide any real solutions. As I got to know each family, I found other ways to help, mostly by coaching job searches and helping with resumes. Household budgeting was the logical next step. Men and women got jobs and understood how to manage their finances. The cycle of instability was breaking!
This is how the mission of Papa’s Pantry started: The heart and soul of Papa’s Pantry is to help people gain/regain stability. Although food is important when there’s not enough, it is the stability training classes and ongoing coaching and mentoring that really makes a lasting impact. Our training division is The Master’s Training Center; classes are available to everyone in the community. Food is given as needed, until each family is on their feet. This is still what makes Papa’s unique.
After 5 ½ years, it was time to go full time. I quit my job and leaned on God for the next steps. Our first public pantry was in Canton, in an old home converted to business space. Within 10 months, we outgrew it and relocated to our current location, 6551 Commerce Parkway (just off Bells Ferry near Kellogg Creek).
Papa’s Pantry is a place that changes lives. There have been thousands of families we have had the privilege to serve during the past 20 years. Feel free to call us if you’d like to schedule a tour and learn more about our programs that work, 770-591-4730. papaspantry.org.
We keep making progress!
– Lynne Saunders is director of Papa’s Pantry and the Master’s Training Center.