Beginning last July, a coalition of Cambridge Christian churches and ministries took a dedicated leap of faith. The group joined forces, seeking the best way to offer practical help and hope to community members struggling with poverty's many issues.
On Monday, June 6, that journey bore fruit, as One Mission Cambridge opened its doors at 614 Race Street, offering food, resources and counseling in a one-stop location.
The mission is open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 1-6 p.m., and Second Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon.
From the outset, the response from volunteers and those seeking services has been tremendous, mission coordinator Krista Pettit added.
Pettit brings compassion coupled with wide-ranging experience gleaned from her post coordinating Haven Ministries, a nonprofit church coalition in Queen Anne's County, plus awareness that Cambridge has its own unique needs.
To help address those, One Mission Cambridge is focused on steadily building relationships and trust by striving to set a standard of excellence, she said.
Pettit's husband, Reverend Chris Pettit, pastor of Grace and St. Paul's United Methodist Church, recalled that the idea had been under discussion informally throughout the faith community over the years. When the first official meetings were held last August and September, it was enthusiastically embraced, with more than 20 churches attending. After a United Methodist Church grant was awarded, a building to house the mission could be acquired.
Following months of hard work from volunteers, the storefront building, formerly painted black inside, now features a blue sky/white cloud mural (created by Rev. Chris' brother Chad, an artist who has worked at the U.S. Capitol Building) enhancing original brick walls, and white ceilings adding to the welcoming ambiance of hopeful light.
Alcoves brightened by tall windows on either side of the entryway offer comfortable seating for personalized one-on-one discussions with trained volunteers, whose primary goal is to listen and learn what each visitor needs help with.
The food pantry is set up like a store, consisting of a series of well-stocked shelves where people can individually select what they need. A refrigerated freezer holds perishables. Designed as a supplement, each visitor is entitled to one visit per month.
It's hoped that having one centralized food bank instead of numerous church locations will simplify and streamline the process, the mission's inaugural newsletter disclosed.
Donations have been generously streaming in and are always welcome, Pettit said. Fresh produce will also be available courtesy of the Cambridge Community Garden at Waugh Chapel on High Street. Several beds are dedicated to growing for the center's food pantry. Individual gardeners are also welcome to offer their surplus harvest, according to Coordinator Kathy Burtman, Dorchester County Master Gardener.
Plans to extend food access include monthly community dinners starting in the fall, initially in a large meeting space being prepared in the rear of the building but eventually reaching other areas in the community. The ultimate goal is for a variety of Cambridge neighborhoods to host community dinners every night of the week to not only fight food insecurity, but also offer a way to connect with others socially, helping seniors and others cope with loneliness and isolation, Pettit noted.
For those facing the challenging maze of resolving Social Security and other government agency issues, volunteers will be on hand to help navigate thorny and time-consuming red tape.
An elevated table space with chairs has been set up to accommodate laptops which have been requested through a grant, fostering the means to find solutions online, again with assistance provided.
Job listings posted along the back wall can be easily copied and carried, and a volunteer trained in resume creation is available by appointment.
A smaller separate room can accommodate health needs such as hearing aid testing and provide privacy for individual Christian counseling and support group sessions.
"The need for counseling services was identified through a community assessment. The need that was expressed most frequently during these community conversations was mental health services to individuals and families," Pettit said.
Reflecting the mission's faith-based foundation, a prayer board welcomes those wishing to post notes of prayers, praise and gratitude.
All Christian churches are invited to participate, and monthly meetings are held to make decisions about the mission center. Many volunteer opportunities for church and community members are available. To get involved and for more information, contact Krista Pettit at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-901-3959. Also, visit the mission website at onemissioncambridge.org, and the FB and Instagram social media pages.
Save the Dates:
Open House - Saturday, July 16, 10 a.m. to noon.
Official Ribbon Cutting, with Chamber of Commerce, light refreshments, Wednesday, July 27, noon.