Still taking care of their neighbors

The Neighborhood Care Center’s Neighborhood Market is busier than ever during ‘shelter-in-place’

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CLINTON — The Neighborhood Care Center volunteers normally are pretty busy with the 15 various ministries under the group’s umbrella.  But, while the coronavirus pandemic has forced them to modify the way they conduct those services, they forge ahead, and Neighborhood Market is busier than ever.

Traffic for the weekly food ministry is up 36 percent, according to organization director Cody Monkman.  It was a program that already served a lot of people.

“Our biggest one is Neighborhood Market.”

In normal times, the market operates similarly to a supermarket.  Shoppers roam the aisles and pick out their groceries.  Restrictions enacted because of COVID-19, however, have turned the market into a giant, temporary drive-through distribution.

The current situation works well for seniors who need help, one of the virus high-risk groups, because they don’t have to take the chance going out to the supermarket.  They can drive through, or have someone drive them, and still practice social distancing.

Neighborhood Market also has a “feed ministry.”

“If you have a neighbor you’re worried about, and you know they don’t cook, you can come get a feed meal and take it to them,” Monkman said.

People interested in using that program can call the office at (217) 935-6844.  Information about all of the Neighborhood Care Center’s program is available at www.neighborhoodcarecenter.net.  See them, too, on Facebook.

The faith-based group also has some worship videos available on their Web site as well.

“We made those keeping in mind senior citizens and shut-ins.”

“Communications has been the hard part during this,” Monkman said.  “But, all of that is on our Web site.”

Visitors to the Web site also can find a COVID-19 update section.

“Things changed on March 17, when it became more real,” Monkman said about actions taken by the state to slow the spread of the virus.  “So, everything now is really mobile.”

During the first week of the state shelter-in-place order, “things really hit the fan on that Friday morning,” Monkman said.  “On that Saturday, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., I fielded 55 phone calls.”

On the following Sunday, Monkman handled more than a dozen additional calls.

“All of those calls were internal calls trying to figure out what the Care Center would look like the following week.”

Once they had a plan in place, they met with their 150 ministry partners to coordinate their plan.

On this day, there was a frenzy of activity under way as volunteers picked, bagged and delivered groceries to guests in their cars.  At one point, the line of cars using the market stretched northward onto Washington Street.

They’ve also taken time during the coronavirus restrictions to do some remodeling work.  A new front door was installed thanks to a grant from First National Bank & Trust.

Neighborhood Market 

Every Tues. & Thurs. from 1-3 p.m., and the first and third Tuesday of every month from 4:30-6 p.m.  

Normally, participants must have a valid/unexpired government-issued photo ID, and a piece of mail from the last 60 days for proof of address. This is required for every visit to the market.  Neighborhood Market is available to all residents of DeWitt County, Maroa, and Heyworth.