Food basket

The basket includes a large variety of different vegetables, dairy products and other fresh foods.

MANSFIELD — While doing their due diligence to individuals with disabilities, the Independent Living Center has sent over 300 food baskets and food cards to their consumers. 

“We just knew that we needed to do it, so we just stepped up and did what we needed to do and we were really blessed to have individuals that were willing to work with us and keep everything local as much as possible,” said Pam Drake, executive director of the Independent Living Center. 

Knowing that people would begin to feel the impact of COVID-19, the staff at the non-residential Independent Living Center began to ask themselves where it would take them in terms of services they would need to be able to provide for their consumers. 

After checking on their consumers and asking what the Independent Living Center could do for them during this time, the common concern they heard from their consumers was the possible threat of not having enough food. 

Pam Drake

Pam Drake, executive director of the Independent Living Center. 

“You can go to other food banks, but you typically aren’t getting the fresh produce and you don’t always get a lot of the dairy because they don’t have that capacity to house it,” Drake said. 

Through Administration for Community Living (ACL), the Independent Living Center received funding and were able to purchase and provide $25 Meijer's food cards specific to special dietary or personal needs.

The basket includes a large variety of different vegetables, dairy products and bread.

“It’s just by listening to the needs of our consumers we decided to do that, so we’re not sure what we’re going to do moving forward, but we just have the request there,” said Jackie Bentley, finance director. 

The Independent Living Center received the COVID-19 response funding that comes out of the Federal Care Act. In total, there have been 300 current consumers that have been active in the past 12 months, however the Independent Living Center has a much larger database of people whom they’ve served in the past who continue to use their services. 

The Independent Living Center core services include: system and individual advocacy, information and referral, peer support, independent living skills training, institutional transition, youth transition and diversion services.

“We do what we can to advocate for those individuals and incorporate what we do to integrate them into the community,” Drake said.  

Their mission involves keeping people living independently in their own homes and in their own communities, giving them durability to live wherever they want to the best of their abilities and make decisions for themselves. 

“For me, it’s understanding what we do that gives me more gratitude in my heart because, working with the individuals with disabilities, a lot of times people don't recognize and don’t think about it,” Drake said. 

Since sending the baskets, they’ve received a lot of good responses and thank yous from their consumers. As they move forward, the passion and hard work of the staff will keep things running smoothly even as they change the way they do things due to the pandemic. 

“We’re happy and honored to be able to work for the individuals in this community and across the country. We are constantly looking for new ways to serve,” Drake said.


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Thrive Reporter

Tierra Thomas is the Thrive Reporter. She was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio and graduated from Kent State University with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. When she's not writing news, she's writing fiction or taking photos.