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Little Churches, Big Impacts: Haven UMC

by | Oct 17, 2022 | Conference Newsletter

The Haven Community Food Pantry is spreading hope throughout northern Arizona by feeding over 180 families every Wednesday from 9:00 AM to noon.

Haven Community Food Pantry

Overlooking the beautiful Verde Valley lies Haven United Methodist Church; a structure that houses one of the largest food pantry operations in Jerome, Arizona. The Haven Community Food pantry was initially organized in 2003 and has run strictly off donations ever since. Almost two decades later, the operation has blossomed into a beacon of hope for its community with over 45% of donation recipients being locals. “It’s truly amazing to witness. Everyone here is like family, and we have everything to offer, from food to household items and clothing. The response that we have received from the community has been incredible,” Rev. Vicki Lerdahl explained. As operations continued to expand, more donations and support poured in from the community, adding three chest freezers, an upright freezer, two coolers, and a refrigerator/freezer to their storage arsenal. In addition, volunteers like Randy Boardman and Ann Rees have gone the extra mile by extending Haven UMC’s services to neighboring communities including Clarkdale, Cottonwood, and Cornville. Furthermore, the food pantry also provides delivery services for those who are physically unable to visit.

Local partnerships have also attributed to Haven UMC’s success, with a few local bed and breakfast proprietors teaming up with the pantry to gather and prepare fully cooked individual meals that are frozen for weekly consumption. Additional food donations have been primarily received through coordinated efforts of Manzanita Outreach, Rising Hope, St. Vincent De Paul, New Hope Fellowship, and the Verde Valley Neighborhood Food Project. Furthermore, Haven UMC has a satellite panty in Clarkdale, where they are able to feed another 100 individuals every week.

Haven Community Food Pantry Team

Though the food pantry has seen great success, it has encountered its own limitations while trying to meet the rising level of need from the community. Given that the structure was built in 1927, there are many limitations when it comes to transporting food from vehicles into the church. The entrance of the food pantry involves 25 narrow cement stairs, which makes it difficult for volunteers to make the several trips needed to stock the food pantry on foot. Members of Haven UMC are determined to fix this issue by installing a conveyor system that will assist in moving products up and down the stairs. Haven UMC recently was approved for a United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development grant and has also been the recipient of a generous donation from the Christ Lutheran Church in Sedona. “It is rewarding to witness how the community has been so responsive and supportive of our mission. With every obstacle comes more help and we are blessed to do what we do and looking forward to our upgrades,” head volunteer, Ann Rees explained.

Ann Rees and Randy Boardman (Head Volunteers)

As the Haven Community Food Pantry continues to thrive and serve its community, its mission stays the same: “sharing God’s love and joy through acts of kindness”. Simple, impactful words that have fueled a complicated, immense operation that continues to spread hope throughout Arizona. If you would like to make a donation or volunteer at the Haven Food Pantry, please contact Rev. Vicki Lerdahl at vickilerdahl@dscumc.net or visit the Haven UMC Facebook page (information below).

About/Bio:

Haven United Methodist Church in Jerome, AZ has been long known as “the little church on the hill with the big heart.” With traditions dating back to 1900, Haven UMC has served its community for over a century through music, worship, and community collaboration. The active pastor at Haven UMC is Vicki Lerdahl, who is now serving the church for the second time in her career. If you would like to learn more about Haven United Methodist church, please see the information below.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/people/Haven-UMC/100068839595821/?sk=about

Website/Donations: https://havenchurchjerome.com/

Email: office@havenchurchjerome.com

Pastor Contact Info: vickilerdahl@dscumc.net

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Author: Jeremy Crawford

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