Victory Dream Center in Carbondale, Ill., serves the Illinois counties of Jackson, Jefferson and Williamson
Founded as a church in 1998, Victory Dream Center transitioned to a more outreach- focused organization and connected with the St. Louis Area Foodbank in 2010. The Center’s services include a “Client Choice” food pantry open on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 1 p.m. “Client Choice” pantries allow people seeking food assistance to choose for themselves what products they receive, instead of being handed a bag/box of food to take home.
In addition, Victory Dream Center offers a Youth Outreach with dinner program on Wednesday evenings, and a hot buffet breakfast on Tuesday and Sunday mornings. Its Community Center is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., also allowing access to the pantry for emergency food assistance. Victory Dream Center serves food to an average of 900 families per month, which translates to about 2,500 individuals. Their Youth Outreach program provides activities and dinner to more than 125 children each week. “Many of the individuals we assist are currently homeless, without employment, or physically/mentally impaired,” notes Nathan Cherry, food pantry director. “We work to accommodate the specific needs of these individuals. We offer free classes for individuals who would like to find help and encouragement for emotional needs. We also offer transportation and access for anyone interested in speaking with a minister or attending spiritual meetings.” Twice weekly, the Center provides transportation for children, teenagers, adults and families to come there for food and support.
Responding to the Flood
The communities this vital agency serves have been dealt some particularly difficult blows in the past year. Recent cuts in state funding, due to Illinois’ financial crisis, have forced many other local support outreaches to reduce the level of assistance they can provide. As a result, Victory Dream Center has seen a rise in need among the people it serves. Panic and fear hit nearby Grand Tower as the recent floodwaters raged.
The Center obtains an array of food products from the Foodbank, including canned, boxed and frozen items, as well as fresh produce. The Foodbank delivers to Victory Dream Center twice a month and donated one of its old trucks to the Center two years ago, which it uses to pick up items from the Foodbank once a month. “These products are absolutely vital to our work,” Cherry notes. “These are the specific products we distribute in our community. We also use the products to cook and prepare our served meals. We cannot express in words how grateful we are for our partnership with the St. Louis Area Foodbank! It is one of the very best organizations you can possibly support with your donations; your dollars are multiplied many times over with the impact that the Foodbank can have on communities.”