By Maggie Kenworthy
WARSAW — Like many non-profits in the area, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a huge burden on Our Father’s House in Warsaw.
Our Father’s House, 2114 Winona Avenue, is a nonprofit organization that operates on donations. They offer a weekly food bank to those in need and have a thrift store. Food items are available through the food bank at no cost. Anyone can purchase items at the thrift store at a reduced cost. In addition, the organization has a catering service that helps fund the nonprofit’s costs.
During the height of the pandemic, Our Father’s House came up with a system to operate the food bank contactless. With the help of volunteers Drew Krichbaum and Josh O’Grady, no at-risk individuals were exposed yet the community remained fed.
Roz Morgan, director of Our Father’s House, explained that the organization has not had any catering events since March. But, the need for the food bank has increased under the pandemic, especially during the state’s shut down.
“We couldn’t qualify for any type of payroll protection because we don’t have a payroll. So all that time we had no income and that hurt us because we do not carry a lot of money in our bank account,” said Morgan. “We have enough that if the barn burns down we can maybe get a cup of coffee to watch.”
With no catering revenue coming in, Morgan says the future of Our Father’s House is in question. And if nothing changes, then the organization may cease to exist by 2021.
“I do not see how at this pace we can continue,” said Morgan. “The reason that I’m even saying this is because if I do this, I don’t want people to say ‘I had no idea, I didn’t know what was happening.’ I don’t want them to say that.”
The biggest concern that Morgan has is where people will turn to if Our Father’s House closes. She and her many dedicated volunteers work hard to ensure families are fed, babies are diapered and people down on their luck have household essentials.
Morgan estimates that the food pantry serves 100 families every week during their busy season. With an average of four people per family, that’s 400 people in the community who may have nowhere else to turn.
“If you come in on Monday, you can come in Monday next week. But, unlike other pantries, if you are at zero food, you call here and I don’t care if it’s 10 o’clock in the morning if you can get here before 5:30, we’re going to do something,” explained Morgan. “We’re never going to let any family call us and say that they don’t have any food today — ever. One of us will stay and make sure they get it.”
Our Father’s House began serving the community in 1997.
“My brothers and I were always very fortunate. If we needed something, we could always go home to our father’s house,” explained Morgan. “I always thought that everybody did that and then as I got older in life I realized that we were actually so very fortunate because we could go home and did go home. I figured everybody should have a place to go home to.”
While Our Father’s House has not accepted cash donations in the past, the organization is open to financial support at this time. Anyone wishing to help Our Father’s House get through this difficult period can set up a donation by visiting the store or calling (574) 268-1800.
Morgan believes that once the catering events start back up again, Our Father’s house will be able to support itself like it has for years.
“I will be grateful for whatever the outcome and until we have a decided outcome, we are going to be here and we’re going to do everything that we can, as long as we can,” said Morgan.