By Selwyn Harris
Each Wednesday, between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m., a long line of locals and often their families form just outside of Path of Hope Ministries at 781 West St.
They’re usually not there to worship.
They make their way to the location with the hopes of getting food and other provisions to help them make ends meet for the next seven days.
Some arrive by car while others walk with shopping carts, often flanked by young children.
Path of Hope’s Donna Redmayne said because the ministry feeds hundreds of families each week — before, during and after the holidays — the need for donations is both constant and crucial.
“It’s busy, really busy. In fact, I am working on paperwork now from the week of the 19th where we had 473 families. Last week the totals were lower and dropped a little bit. I’d like to think that families were able to go visit other family members and that’s why our totals were not as high last week. But we are seeing higher totals every month. We give out food every Wednesday,” she said.
Redmayne said that the organization is assisting many more families this year compared to last.
Her best guess is that the sour economy continues to pressure the resources of too many in Pahrump.
“We have more than doubled this year. We were probably in the 200s last year and now we are running between 450 to 525 families a week. It is scary to think that there are that many people here in the town of Pahrump that need food. It’s a scary thought of where our economy is today. But I’m also blessed that I get to be part of the team to be able to provide that food to those people who know that they are getting it. It’s kind of a mixed blessing,” she said.
Redmayne noted that when it comes to helping those in need, there is one word she does not like to hear — “pride.”
Redmayne believes one should never be too proud to accept help for themselves and especially their loved ones during lean times.
“We actually get people like that and I get a lot of phone calls from people coming in for the first time. They just want to know what they have to bring and what they have to use to prove their income. But on Wednesdays, we don’t ask for anything. We believe that if they need food, they are going to tell us and we just trust people not to lie to us,” she said.
If Redmayne knows if in fact someone is worried about the stigma of receiving food assistance, she will do her best to convince them to accept the help the organization is providing.
“We get people in there and it’s their first time. We have talked them in three or four times and they will finally come in and look for myself or Sandy Tucker. They are crying. Just crying because they have to do this. We try to give them comfort and make them feel better. Usually they have a smile on their face when they leave,” she said.
Fresh produce, including onions and potatoes are always on the list of food items.
An assortment of canned food items are also a staple, as is pasta.
Beans and bread, Redmayne noted, can also be had on most Wednesdays.
She said the food bank is supported in large part by local donations from generous individuals.
The donations are then used to purchase food from a Southern Nevada agency at a discount.
“Every penny we receive goes into food and we have no overhead. We are blessed that New Hope Fellowship pays our electric bill. If we have any maintenance that needs to be done, we have companies that will volunteer their services for it. If we have to pay for it, we have been lucky that the church has always paid for everything so all of the money we get all goes to food and it is all strictly donations. We run on average between $400 and $600 a month in donations. We can buy food from Three Square, who is part of the Feed America program, and we get it for approximately nine cents a pound and they give us the produce and the bread,” she said.
Redmayne also said the community owed a special thanks to the Nevada Silver Tappers dance troupe this year. The group recently raised some much needed additional funds.
“They awarded us $1,800 from their Christmas performance in December and that will buy a tremendous amount of food for us,” she said.
While speaking of the local donations, Redmayne noted that she has received calls from people interested in donating items other than money.
She said though she is grateful for the thought, there were some items that she just couldn’t accept for obvious reasons.
“I tell them we will take anything that we don’t have to feed. We have had all kinds of weird things donated to us. We did have somebody that wanted to give us puppies,” she said with a laugh.
Redmayne and Tucker are the founders of the program.
Both are in their fourth year.
Redmayne said they just simply want to help people who are truly in need of assistance.
“When the construction industry started going downhill here in Pahrump before it completely crashed, we had friends who were out of work with small children and they didn’t have food. That’s when we started it. Sandy would feed out of her pantry and I would just help her deliver it,” she said.
As the program progressed, Redmayne and Tucker buckled down and expanded it to help feed others in the valley including homeless individuals and families.
“We started buying food and various things that we could give to people in need. We eventually got connected with all of the right people and things just started going. Three and a half years ago Sandy and I fed 11 families in one month and we thought nothing could be greater. Now we stand back and say I can’t believe we do this,” Redmayne said.
“We get the odd complaint once in a while that we don’t have meat often enough, but for the most part everybody that comes through, we get little nice notes from. We just feel like they belong to us and we have a personal connection with them,” she said.
For more information about the Path of Hope Ministries food bank program, call 751-2665.