A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Nonprofit Spotlight: Be Concerned adapts its services to meet needs of our low-income neighbors

The NKyTribune is teaming up with Horizon Community Funds on these stories about the great nonprofits serving our region.

By Tess Brown
Horizon Community Foundation

It’s safe to say an organization functions with an “all hands on deck” mentality if the executive director schedules afternoons around picking up furniture donations himself. That is when he isn’t delivering meal kits from the back of his own car to our senior neighbors or nearby college students who have found themselves in hard times. Be Concerned started out as a Christmas Store for low-income families, and like many of our nonprofits, has adapted over the years to meet the growing needs of our neighbors throughout the year.

One of these neighbors, Stella Terrell, has been a Be Concerned customer since she was young, and still uses the programs with a child of her own. Stella was the youngest of 14 children and grew up in extreme poverty. Her mother cleaned houses, and her family lived in a house in Erlanger that had no electricity. For the past 30 years, she has known the food pantry, thrift store, and Christmas Store at Be Concerned as a regular customer.

The steam in the engine of this organization is its strong crew of volunteers. In fact, its first employee wasn’t hired until 1988, 20 years after opening its doors, and the agency has since grown to employ two more full-time staff, and one part-time staff. Throughout the year, 150 or so volunteers make their way through the doors of the agency to stock pantry shelves, help check guests in for appointments, sort donations, and much more, which would otherwise need to be staffed by paid employees. Their 20,000 hours of service each year allow the organization to serve 700 families in its food pantry. An additional 150 are fed through the Senior Food Delivery Project, College Student Supplemental Grocery Delivery, the Weekend Project and the Disability/Homebound Grocery Delivery.

Stella loves to shop at the annual Christmas Store, where she has been able to find useful houseware gifts. “I love the housewares and the food,” she said. “Living on one income, with my rent and utilities and everything, the Christmas Store has been very helpful to me. Be Concerned has been a big part of my life.”

Additionally, Be Concerned operates Betty’s Treasures, a shop on its lower level named for longtime Be Concerned leader and supporter Betty Zimmer. Donated household furniture, decorations, clothing, and much more span the area, with proceeds going directly back into operations and other programming. Betty’s Treasures is open to the public and its hours are Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. until Noon. It has extended hours Tuesday evenings from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Keep in touch with Be Concerned on Facebook, and learn more about them at http://www.beconcerned.org/.

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