Thanks and Giving: A Working Community Program as Model

Starting a local newspaper is no easy feat. Keeping a local newspaper going these days is even harder. Pressure from competing technology, escalating price of printing, advertising competition and other business challenges haven't slowed down The Spirit of Bainbridge


It keeps standing tall and arrives free to everyone's mailbox every three weeks to the local Bainbridge / Auburn, Ohio community in Geauga county. Anne and John Bauswein are the owners of this newspaper that highlights local activities, local groups, organizations, and schools. They cater to the local businesses, the healthcare community, and the non-profit groups that make the close knit community what it is-a network of caring and committed people all trying to improve the hometown and stimulate others to get involved in local affairs and events.

But what this husband and wife newspaper team started 20 years ago is a quieter and more remarkable creation-it's the "Pantry", or better known as Bainbridge Area Food for Friends. John Bauswein told me that after working closely with the community in building a successful newspaper, a person winds up knowing more about the town than most people know. After talking with the police, the fire department, the schools, churches and synagogues, He found out that not everyone is always "fine". One finds out that hard working people sometimes run into hard times. And you find out that the "government programs" aren't always working for everyone. There are gaps where people don't qualify for assistance. And sometimes people are too proud to apply for a welfare program.

Bainbridge Area Food for Friends was created to bridge the gap. To provide a program that connects a person or family in need with the local giving strength of the community. This program ensures that your donations stay in the community and help the people that are essentially your neighbors. A spouse passes away, you get laid off, you get hurt and can't work, a daughter and a baby move back in, medical bills pile up-the list of conditions that can temporarily set a family back are too numerous to list. But these families do need help, even though they might not be classified as impoverished. These are working folks who will do what it takes to keep food on the table. If they fall short, fall on tough times, a helping hand is ready to take the pressure off of the family for a month.

The program will give the family enough groceries to get them through 4 to 6 weeks. This includes canned goods, fresh vegetables, and meat. It takes away one major daily worry and buys time for the family to financially recover from the setback, whatever it may be. There is no government official involved, no red tape or paperwork, and the pantry visit is made discreetly and with a smile from a volunteer.

The pantry started as most great inventions do, out of a need not being met. The institution grew and flourished through old-fashioned hard work, promotion, grass roots organization and inclusion of business and personal donation.

How does the pantry stay stocked? Count the local schools to have multiple food drives. The local businesses offer product discounts for food donations. The fire and police departments sponsor events, and large chain stores give money and products. The worship community always is there and even the local post office has a massive food drive once a year where they collect bags of food hung from the mailboxes on their postal routes.

The Bausweins housed the pantry initially in their basement, then it moved to a local church, then to a larger building in the township, and now Bainbridge Area Food For Friends is under co-sponsored control of the Bainbridge Civic Club-a long standing organization that prides itself on community involvement. What a journey over twenty years! It took a lot of effort to start, but now it's a local institution that has a life of its own based on the individuals who give it a life that keeps giving back to the community. Thanksgiving is a holiday once each year. But local business owners, John and Anne Bauswein, created a giving gift that channels the good of the community to the thankful every day.

Be inspired to create your own local food pantry. This is the type of organization that our founding fathers believed in, no government role–community supported. Harness the generosity that is there in your owb back yard and create a program that uses local donations to help your own neighbors that need it the most. Charity begins at home and this type of gift can help keep a community strong, especially in these tough economic times. Happy Thanksgiving all year round!

*** Official Information Below from Bainbridge Area Food For Friends

Bainbridge Area Food For Friends continues its tradition of serving those in need, and is anticipating an increase in families needing assistance during the fall holiday season.

We remind local organizations, school groups and churches that the local pantry receives no government funding, and relies solely on the generosity of local people and organizations.

Currently, the most needed items at the pantry include: toiletries, toothpaste, canned pumpkin, peaches, pears, Manwich and jelly. Monetary donations may be made to the Bainbridge Area Food for Friends account at PNC (formerly National City Bank) on E. Washington Street in Bainbridge. Non-perishable items may be dropped off at the pantry (lower level of Bainbridge Town Hall) or in the lobby bin at Bainbridge Library.

If you or someone you know needs the confidential assistance please call 543-6181, 543-7901 or 708-9829 (leave a message).

Anne and John Bauswein founded Bainbridge Area Food For Friends in 1990. Now co-sponsored by Bainbridge Civic Club and Spirit of Bainbridge, it is a local entity supported totally by local donations and fundraising events.

The pantry is open every morning, call for an appointment. Emergency food is provided to those in need during a temporary hardship in Bainbridge Township, Auburn Township, and South Russell Village. Eligibility is determined per case and not for those eligible for government or other assistance.





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