1901 S. Fourth Ave.
Morton, IL
309.266.9510
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About Us

 

 

 

Our History

Paula LaFond & Susan WagamanCommunity Harvest began in 2008, serving just 3 families, and has now grown into the largest food pantry in Tazewell county serving over 47,000 people in 2015, including 17,700 children and 5,300 elderly.

The food pantry is the realized vision of co-founders Paula LaFond and Susan Wagaman, both of Trinity Church. The two women came together from separate tracks, and have developed a synergistic relationship that has persevered through many ups and downs as this ministry has grown.

Paula, who was a Patient Care Manager of 3 departments at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois, was inspired by the testimony of one who once held a lofty position in the business world and suddenly found himself in great need.

His church body came along side him in tremendous ways and he went on to lead a multi-million dollar ministry to help others in need.

Paula says, “I feel it’s very important to take your faith and put legs to it.” She started thinking big – wanting to be able to provide everything from food, to clothes, to furniture, to cars for people in the community that had different needs.

Susan came to Trinity in August of 2007 as self-proclaimed “damaged goods”. A severe allergic reaction to a medication given to her in April of 2007 left her with diminished ability to organize her thoughts and speech. She was no longer able to continue in her line of work as a hospital lab technician but when talk began of a starting a food pantry, she couldn’t stay away.

Years earlier, Susan had been a part of a huge church in Lexington, Kentucky that had the kind of ministry Paula dreamed of. Having experienced that, she painstakingly worked to use and communicate her experiences and knowledge to help set the course of action to get the ministry started.

Then five years ago the team was joined by Stephanie Bertelson, Stephanie became our Administrative Director. Under her leadership Community Harvest became a "lean green grocery machine".  Her knowledge of warehouse management and the Lean process allows us to store and give away over 100 tons of food a year. Each week serving 250 families within a 2 hour period.

The Pioneers' Vision

Pastor Mike HutchingsFormer Trinity Pastor, Mike Hutchings, has been the main supporter and director for the food pantry since it’s inception. He wisely directed Paula and Susan to simply focus on providing food.

The team was joined by Ann Plaehn, Trinity Head Administrative Assistant, and Susan’s daughter, Heather Conner. Together these pioneers worked out the vision, led by the Holy Spirit, to be a visible demonstration of the kingdom of God by acts of mercies that meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of those we serve.

They did not want to follow a “cookie cutter” approach to starting a food pantry, so as Community Harvest was developed as a unique ministry, there were many hours of thankless work and many lessons learned along the way. Paula says “Every single thing I have screwed up, made up, and fixed up, God has used it to develop this ministry.”

 

Our Volunteers 

Our Volunteers come from several local churches and the community at large. Over 6,000 volunteer hours are worked each year to prepare and distribute food to our guests. 

 

Growth and its Impact

The leadership and congregation of Trinity Church have been extremely gracious in supporting the growing ministry over the last 8 years. The increasing space requirements and building usage have been difficult to accommodate, and other ministries have sacrificed so that Community Harvest could continue.

This growth has not been without growing pains, and Paula and Susan wish to extend their gratitude to all who have supported them along the way.

What started as an idea to feed those in need has grown into a mature ministry with branches that extend beyond the needy in our community. Many local churches, organizations, and businesses have partnered with Community Harvest in supplying goods and volunteers. In early 2012 Community Harvest moved their operation into the newly created Community Life Center building.

Among the innumerable ways people in the community have been affected by this ministry, Susan herself has experienced significant healing from the effects of her medical mishap. She says “We are each unique and have our own crosses to bear. God helps us with those crosses because of this.”

 

Donate Today

Food

Donations accepted during regular business hours Mon-Fri, or special arrangements can be made. Contact us for more information.

Time

Many volunteers are needed to run the food pantry. Contact us for more information on dates/times/jobs needed.

Money

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