“(The artist) tried to represent most of our clients by putting young and old, different cultures, families and singles.” Otto said.
That's because the Center for Hope at 740 Park Road serves the needs of the greater Ambridge community through its food pantry and various outreach programs.
Otto said the pantry serves anywhere between 500 to 800 people a month just through its food pantry alone, with the number of those enduring economic hardship steadily rising.
The faith-based center, which opened in 2004, provides several programs throughout the year to help residents weather hard times and transition to independence.
A food pantry distribution is open each month for individuals and families in need.
A daily bread ministry runs Monday through Thursday at 1 p.m. for low-income residents and pregnant women, whose eligibility is based on the federal poverty guidelines.
Coffee hour is open to men and women from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays.
And at 5 p.m. every Thursday, community dinners are provided to anyone registered for the food pantry. Participants can enjoy a free hot meal, which is provided by area churches and other civic groups.
Before the dinners are served, families can bring their toddlers to“Kids in the Corner,” an area to keep children entertained while they wait for their meal.
Otto said the kids like having their own special space, and the center has taken notice. A library in the hallway allows children too pick out books, which Otto said encourages kids to read.
And just last month, the center started a new section in the food pantry called “Kids Helping Kids.” The section allows children to donate snacks and goodies specifically for other children, who receive tickets to pick a snack from the pantry. The kids also help manage the section, which Otto said helps to teach them.
“When the child comes with you, mom can’t pick it out. The child has to pick it out,” Otto said. "Kids like to snack too."
This summer the center is also offering a free lunch program from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. The program through the Beaver County YMCA is open to any child in Ambridge, regardless of income, similar to a program taking place at the high school this summer.
“There are so many hungry kids and so many people that qualify in our area that they wanted to have different sites,” Otto said.
Otto said children from families that receive food stamps year round typically get subsidized breakfast and lunch, which means families could face hardship once school lets out for the summer.
In addition to its own programs, the center opens its space to others. The Women Infant and Children (WIC) program, for example, meets there, which allows those who need an appointment to schedule one closer.
Occupational Vocational Rehabilitation Service, or OVR also meets at the center once a month. The service is for people dealing with issues, such as amputees, that make it harder to get into the workplace. Otto said the center doesn’t run those programs.
“They just use space here,” she said.
More than 200 volunteers help out at the center, which is always in need of nonperishable food donations or financial support. Food can be dropped off during office hours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the summer.
Donations can also be sent c/o Dave and Sue Otto to The Center for Hope, 740 Park Road, Ambridge, PA 15003. For more information, call 724-251-4899.
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