As CazCares members and local volunteers gear up for the fourth annual “Open Your Heart” fundraiser on May 12, the organization is also preparing to celebrate its 30th birthday.
Started in 1982, the food pantry and community closet now operates out of its own location at 101 Nelson St., and helps an average of 160 families each month.
“Each family faces different challenges and visits CazCares for different reasons. What makes CazCares special is that we really listen to people’s concerns and treat people with respect,” said Client Services Director Gigi Redmond. “Whatever the circumstances, everyone who walks through the door is greeted by a wonderful team of caring volunteers.”
In the past thirty years the non-profit organization has moved out of the basement of the Atwell Mill and expanded its programming, which now includes a pre-school reading curriculum as well as adult tutoring programs. Initially launched by six local churches as an agency to offer emergency food and clothing to those in need, support came from area congregations in the form of both volunteer time and financial backing. CazCares continues to receive support from local churches in addition to businesses, individuals and through grant funding.
“It has been my experience since being involved that everyone wants the best for CazCares, which in turn aids our clients. There isn’t anyone involved that can’t relate to being in a family and the stresses that often come with that,” said Nancy Green, president of the CazCares Board of Directors. “All of our volunteers are galvanized by helping those who have fewer options in life.”
CazCares will be celebrating its past three decades of service in conjunction with the Open Your Heart fundraiser, from 6 to 9 p.m. May 12 in the First Presbyterian Church of Cazenovia. The event is free and open to the public. The community is invited to attend and donations will be accepted.
The fundraiser has been a successful silent auction event for the past three years and has raised $27,000 for CazCares. This year, attendees will be able to view and purchase artwork from local artists, who will donate 30 percent of the proceeds to CazCares. A video presentation highlighting 30 years of service in the community will also be viewed.
“This year the event is a little different, as we are trying to benefit local artists as well as CazCares, in addition to celebrating our 30th anniversary. Our multi-generational volunteers have been the stewards of our history, in their consistency, compassion and creativity,” Green said. “The event is truly a coming together of different constituencies – churches, organizations, families, and individuals – in one vein, to support CazCares while they possibly purchase goods and have an opportunity to see friends.”
Green grew up in Cazenovia and graduated from the local high school in 1977. She headed up the Thursday afternoon Fresh Food Program at CazCares, joined the board of directors three years ago and has served as president for one term, which concludes next month. Currently employed as an investment associate at Edward S. Green & Associates, she balances work with her duties as a board trustee.
Redmond has been the client services director at CazCares since 2004. She oversees the food pantry operation and directs the growing workforce of local volunteers. The pantry provides supplemental food for those with limited resources and emergency food for those in crisis situations. The many volunteers the organization relies upon assist families in getting groceries and clothing, to restock shelves and handle donations.
For more information on CazCares, its services and opportunities to donate, call 655-3174, visit cazcares.org or stop by their Nelson Street location between 9:30 a.m. and noon on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings or by appointment.
Pierce Smith is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at 434-8889 ext. 338 or firstname.lastname@example.org.