In May we will start our 15th year of this ministry. Over the last few months we have made a greater effort in fundraising. I would like to take the time to share with you the reasons why it takes more funding than the $20 donation from our guests at the distributions.
- $2 (10%) of the $20 donation stays at the local sponsoring distribution site to be used for local expenses and benevolence. Some of this money is used to help your neighbors, friends and perhaps your own relatives with groceries, gas cards or other needs during the month.
- 4% of the guests who attend our distributions are impoverished and cannot afford the donation. Often local churches or local civic organizations will make a donation to the local site for certificates for those who are unable to give the donation, but the certificates are not always available. Therefore, Ruby’s Pantry absorbs the cost of that 4%. In 2016 we served 134,000 families so 4% of that is 5,360 families from which we did not receive the $18 from their donation, which totals $96,480. That is a significant amount of donation funds we don’t receive.
- The $20 donations at Ruby’s Pantry distribution sites were never designed to be able to provide for the purchase or replacement of trucks, trailers, forklifts, warehouses or other major equipment but rather they are designed to cover the basic operational costs of Ruby’s Pantry.
- Ruby’s Pantry is not the only program that Home and Away Ministries has. Ever since our beginning in 2003 we have always tried to do more than simply pass out food because we are a ministry that is especially concerned about all aspects of people’s lives from the physical needs to the spiritual needs.
When we started Home and Away Ministries, our legal organizational name, we were a mission organization doing ministry in small neighborhood churches in Monterrey, Mexico. When we began Ruby’s Pantry, it was not a planned thing but evolved out of being obedient to what I believed God was leading us to do. I have always said that, like Moses in the wilderness, we follow a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. In other words we try to follow God’s direction in our ministry. It has taken us on quite a journey since May of 2003.
- Our mission work in Mexico turned into mission work in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas to the Spanish speaking churches there because of all the violence in recent years but we have continued in the Rio Grande Valley. There is a food program there that we helped to start. We have funded this through donations. See http://www.missionxpress.org/
- Siren, Wisconsin is where Ruby raised her family and attended church. We have held our annual Ruby’s Pantry Leadership Conference in Siren each year. In 2009, we started a thrift store in Siren in an 11,000 square foot building. We opened it up thinking that we would be able to have profits from the store to help fund Ruby’s Pantry. Even though everything we sell has been donated, we still have to pay staff, rent and utilities. The store almost breaks even but it provides low cost clothing and goods to the people in Burnett and Polk counties, both of which counties contain as much poverty as almost anywhere in our nation. The thrift store has also provided clothes for people in need throughout Burnett County, local to organizations and to the children in local schools. It is a wonderful ministry with great volunteers. See http://www.rubyssecondhand.com/
- Space for a food shelf was included in the Ruby’s Second Hand building. Ruby’s Food Shelf serves approximately 150 families monthly in the Siren and Webster Wisconsin school districts. All of the facility expense is paid for by the thrift store and a major portion of the food is provided by Ruby’s Pantry. The food shelf does raise funds to cover the costs of additional food that is not readily available through Ruby’s Pantry and to pay a small stipend to the manager. See http://www.rubysfoodshelf.org/
- In 2012 we obtained a 46,000 square foot facility, formerly a nursing home, in Luck, WI that fulfilled a 20-year dream for our board of directors to have a Ministry Center. The facility has been transformed into a free medical clinic which is staffed by a paid manager and a number of volunteer doctors, nurses and other staff.Included in the medical clinic is a dental clinic that is physically ready to open with volunteer dentists and staff, but we are wading through some final issues with purchasing the dental supplies. The dental clinic is state-of-the-art with five exam rooms. See http://www.myfreeclinic.org/
- Inside the Ministry Center there is a beauty shop which provides free services. It is staffed by a volunteer beautician. What a joy it is to see people going in and coming out with smiles of gratitude at the blessing they received of having their hair washed and styled by a professional.
- The Ministry Center has over 50 bedrooms and suites to be used for conferences and can sleep comfortably about 120 people. It has three paid staff; a part time secretary, a full time maintenance man and full time director.
- Just this past weekend we were blessed to have over 50 “Daughters of the King” from The Father’s House in Burnsville, MN hold their spring women’s conference there. We have hosted an international fiddler’s convention as well as concerts, local cancer fundraisers, Miss Luck open house and open houses for young men leaving for the military. See http://ministriescenter.org/
- FYI, just this last summer we completed the construction of a 6,000 sq ft freezer and 2,000 sq ft cooler for $550,000 in North Branch, MN to house part of the needed cold storage. See https://www.rubyspantry.org/
- FYI, we have expanded our 20,000 sq ft warehouse space in Waupaca by tearing out walls of unused offices to help house our dry goods as we needed more space.
- FYI, we pay cold storage charges of $3.10 a week on 725 pallets of frozen food in Wisconsin to service the distributions out of Waupaca.
- FYI, in 2015 we purchased a 20,000 sq ft facility across the street from our present distribution center in North Branch to house the new freezer and cooler and a 6,000 sq ft shop to work on our tractors and trailers to help save money.
- FYI, in 2015 we also purchased an 8,000 sq ft office building to house our staff.
- FYI, our ministry has over 40 paid staff. See http://www.homeandawayministries.org/
Our goal is be what God wants us to be and then do what God wants us to do. We are not perfect but we serve a perfect God who loves people and is concerned about all aspects of each of our lives. We are doing the best we know how to help people and honor God. But we have discovered that it costs money to do these things. I hope this helps to explain the financial needs of our ministry and why we need the prayers and financial help of those who believe in what we are doing.
Thank you for all you do.
Founder & Executive Director