By Brian Freiberger
South County Community Services (SCCS) at its annual meeting in July extolled the virtues of staff, board members and volunteers who make things happen every day in the community. “Our goal is to have each person leave the agency having been heard and helped in some way,” said SCCS Board President Jackie Skinner.
SCCS serves approximately 25,000 residents in the lower half of Kalamazoo County with food, financial, emergency and family support services. About a third of the residents in South County live below the poverty line or are families lacking basic needs such as food, utilities, transportation and health care, according to SCCS.
Volunteers served over 2,500 hours assisting with veteran services, collecting and delivering food, organizing the food pantry and answering phone calls in 2016, according to Executive Director Danna Downing. “We have very dedicated people and without them we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” said Downing.
Other donations from the community include 15,000 pounds of food, 1,300 pounds of household items, $11,000 Meijer food cards and $2,200 in Family Fare support.
Retired Army Sgt. Maj. Robert Barton provides help to military veterans. His commitment “makes him a four-star general in our eyes,” according to Downing. “He is one of a kind.” Appointments with veterans through SCCS have increased 44 percent, from 129 in 2015 to 186 in 2016, according to SCCS. “When you wear the green for so long, we have a saying, ‘leave no man behind’ even when we are home,” said Barton.
Transportation Coordinator Patty Brown and her dedicated drivers were able to increase community service van trips by 48 percent in 2016. The volunteer leaders work with the SCCS emergency assistance team to meet client needs.
Jackie and Dave Sirotti organize and maintain the Vicksburg food pantry with their son Michael and others in the Pantry Team. Together, in 2016, the team completed 799 pantry visits. “They are so kind and welcoming to the people who shop. This is food for your body and soul,” said Downing.
Each year at the annual meeting, the agency recognizes a Partner of the Year. This year the nod went to the Schoolcraft Food Pantry, led by Jan McNally, Nancy Rafferty and Peg Crissman. These ladies work with John and Nancy Bambacht to make about 660 food deliveries possible over a year’s time to families in the Schoolcraft area. “They are truly amazing,“ exclaimed Downing.
SCCS is located at 105 S Kalamazoo Ave. in Vicksburg.