Porch of Western Wake

It all began with a lunch at the Nordstrom Café.

Sharon Lake-Gargano and Ellen Rubel of Cary met with the founders of People Offering Relief for Chapel Hill Carrboro Homes, more commonly known as PORCH, to express their interest in adding a branch to the organization in Cary. They were inspired by the small-commitment, big-impact the charity calls for.

In March 2011, with help from the fab four, as Rubel and Lake-Gargano dub them: Adele Rogan, Maria Madsen, Lisa Bultman and Laurie Prusik, they established PORCH-Cary. Soon  after, the organization spread to Morrisville and Apex, becoming PORCH of Western Wake, with volunteers and donors in 24 neighborhoods.

As a local nonprofit hunger relief charity, with no religious or political affiliation, PORCH  asks donors to leave a minimum of one can of food on their porch once a month. Once collected, the cans are donated to the Western Wake Crisis Ministry and the United Service Organizations of NC, or USO-NC.

This month marks the organization’s third year of collecting and providing canned food, about 22 tons overall.

“We are here as the vehicle for those in need,” said  Rubel. “There’s always a place for someone to get involved.”

Recipients depend on the donations from PORCH-WW, which stock food pantries for more than 350 families per month, and provide holiday meals and grocery cards.

The need is real; recent data from ncfoodbanks.org shows that North Carolina is among 10 states ranking the worst in child-food insecurity rates.

“Some of the people we provide for are single parents and have no reliable transportation or simply can’t make ends meet,” said  Lake-Gargano, “which is why we like to maintain the idea of neighbors helping neighbors.”

PORCH-WW’s goal for the future is to get more people involved, by expanding existing donor neighborhoods, reaching out to different age groups, local businesses and community groups, while still fulfilling their recipients’ needs.

“We are very proud of what we have accomplished, and we try to make it very easy for the community to get involved — every can, can help,” said Rubel.

Truth be told, getting involved couldn’t be easier — you can participate monthly or every so often, volunteer as a neighborhood coordinator, or volunteer at post-collection food sorts. The organization also encourages kids from local schools to get involved by hosting can drives;  in return, they receive community service hours.

“Our volunteers are so committed. As we watch everything come together, we’ve realized how generous and thoughtful people are. It’s inspirational and makes you feel good about yourself,” said Rubel.

If you’re interested in getting involved, Lake-Gargano suggests attending a food sort to understand how they operate. Visit porch-westernwake.org for a year-long calendar of the sort and collection dates and a list of active neighborhoods, or you can email info@porch-westernwake.org for other questions or concerns.

Both women point to the reason to continue the work: “The greater we grow, the greater we can provide to those who are in need.”

Upcoming Collections
Collection Week: March 9-15
Sort Day: March 15

Collection Week: April 20-26
Sort Day: April 26

PORCH of Western Wake

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