I was born into a neighborhood in Boston that was half Italian and half Irish (I'm Irish). My mom was the best Irish lady for cooking Italian. Her red sauce was phenomenal. Traditionally, all the families had family dinner after church on Sunday. No one was excused except those in the military or hospital. I loved the feeling of having the family all around the table to share our stories and the abundance of food. A spaghetti dinner was on the weekly menu at our house. Everyone was expected to have their feet under the table at 6 p.m. each night.
The mission of the Pine River-Backus Family Center (PRBFC) is "Strengthening Families and Building a Stronger Community". On the first Thursday and Friday of December, we are an active participant in the "Radiothon to End Child Abuse". This a 24 hour event sponsored by Hubbard Broadcasting Inc., Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota and area County Child Protection Teams. For 24 hours the radio stations are gathered together in the Brainerd Mall where phones are manned and pledges taken to raise money to support area programming that works to end child abuse.
Pine River is a year round business community with old fashion values and pride in its ability to commit to helping our own brothers and sisters in need and, especially, our boys and girls. Respecting our small town values is a badge of honor for Pine River. The Pine River-Backus Family Center (PRBFC) is celebrating 20 years of providing services in our own hometown. Our mission is to work on 'Strengthening Families and Building a Strong Community'.
If I watch too much TV, I can become quite cynical about the world we live in. The majority of the news is about bad people, crooked politics, the greedy and the neglected. In this ocean of turmoil, how is throwing my little pebble going to make a difference? But if we all threw our pebbles in the right direction, we would have a stone wall to calm the waters in our bay.
Throughout our articles celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Pine River-Backus Family Center, I've told the story of the organization's birth as a small, concerned citizen group focused on teen violence. At that phase, most small focus groups evolve to people losing interest, which results in drying up of funding and the group disbanding. Instead, we're celebrating our growth to providing numerous programs to strengthen families and build a stronger community. And that isn't accidental or based on the luck of the Irish.
The Pine River Area Food Shelf (PRAFS) has been a part of our community for 34 years. It grew from a shelf underneath the stairs at First Lutheran Church to a storefront location within the Pine River-Backus Family Center on Barclay Avenue. Last month alone, the food shelf had 184 families visit with 17 of them being first-time visitors. With a struggling economy and the lack of gainful employment, the number of clients is growing, many of them seniors and children.
Through this newspaper, we want to introduce you to various members of the Pine River-Backus Family Center's team of workers and the variety of our programming. You know where the building is on Barclay Avenue, but do you know what goes on in there? Karen Bresnahan is the "face" of the Pine River-Backus Family Center. She is the first person to welcome you to the family center. She is the friendly voice on the phone line. Bresnahan is the "Cat with many hats" here.
In the 20 years that the Pine River-Backus Family Center has been open, it has become the hub of community activity. The services and programs offered are tailored to meet our ever-changing social environment and the unique challenges identified in the Pine River and Backus communities. The evolving vision of the Pine River-Backus Family Center is that all families have what they need to reach their full potential and contribute to their community.
Mark 25: 37-40 "... Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? ... And the King will tell them, 'I assure you, when you did this for the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'" It feels like Thanksgiving Day here at the Pine River Area Food Shelf. We are so thankful for the generous donations and compassionate support shown us during the March food shelf drive. It is impossible to adequately express the depth of our gratefulness that you do care about our mission to feed the hungry in our communities.
When the clock falls back, our snowbird volunteers fly south. These volunteers play a vital role in our ability to serve our community at the Pine River Area Food Shelf. They greet people, enter data in the computer, escort shoppers, stock shelves, weigh items and unload the truck once a month. As an agency, the Pine River Area (PRA) Food Shelf depends heavily on volunteers to fulfill our mission to feed the hungry. But who can fill their roles? The PRA Food Shelf has been blessed with the compassionate care these volunteers demonstrate.