While Bucks County and Pennsylvania at large have been under the grip of Covid-19, many county residents are finding ways to give back. Most are eager to support their local restaurants and shops, but some have stepped outside the Bucks County boundaries to lend support.
Face to Face, a nonprofit in the East Germantown section of Philadelphia, is seeing some of this benevolence.
In its 35 years of existence, the non-profit has seen its origins as a soup kitchen evolve into a full-service organization offering a restaurant style dining room, a washeteria, a health center, legal services as well as social services and a new partnership with Mercy Neighborhood Ministries preschool located in their lower level. These comprehensive services reach more than 2,500 low income and homeless individuals annually.
However, Face to Face has seen essential services undergo some fundamental changes with the onset of Covid-19, most notably in its dining capacity. The hot, homemade in-house meals prepared by Chef Altenor Vavel have been halted to adhere to Gov. Wolf’s social distancing decree. And while the nonprofit has been forced to close its physical doors, it has been able to quickly pivot in the face of adversity.
By March 20, days before the state’s stay-at-home orders were put into place, Face to Face began distributing food packages to its clients. The packages include a fresh meal, produce and eggs from Carversville Farm, bread and several days’ worth of nutritionally balanced pantry items and toiletry kits.
In mid-April, thanks to a collaboration with its sister organization, BSM, they began participating in the city wide “Step Up to the Plate” campaign. The collaboration brought with it vital partnerships with Wawa and Jose Garces Group. The greater community has also aided with individual donations pouring in from Bucks and Montgomery counties.
The beneficence windfall has enabled Face to Face to extend distribution from two to three days per week. Additionally, the organization has dispensed hundreds of Stop the Spread kits to those in need. These critical kits contain a homemade mask, hand sanitizer, tissues, soap and prevention instructions. The kits have played a key role in preventing the coronavirus infection in a community hit hard by the novel virus.
Michelle Stetler, a resident of Doylestown, began her connection with Face to Face many years ago while her children were in elementary school. She and her children would volunteer for school-organized service projects to benefit the nonprofit. However, what really inspired her to continue to do more was when she volunteered at the organization in person.
She says, “I was immediately moved by the care and dignity that is given to each client who comes in for help whether it is for a meal, legal council or to use the washeteria.” Michelle and her children recently organized a neighborhood food collection to support the nonprofit’s distribution packages. When asked about her choice to organize such an effort, Michelle responded, “I will always have time to give and a place in my heart for Face to Face.”
Information is available at facetofacegermantown.org