A local nonprofit is marking a one-year anniversary this month that they never expected to see.
Community Connections was started in March 2020 by Silver Spring Cares, founded by Liz Brent, owner of Go Brent, a local real estate agency. The program’s purpose was to raise funds to help both food-insecure residents and local restaurants hit by the pandemic.
A $10 donation to Community Connections buys a meal prepared by one of the participating restaurants. Community Connections, with the help of Small Things Matter, then delivers the meals to needy residents.
The three original participating restaurants—El Golfo, McGinty’s Publick House and Denizens Brewing Co.—has grown into a group of 12, according to Monica O’Malley de Castillo, executive director of Silver Spring Cares since July.
“We’re serving, on average, 150 meals a week to our neighbors facing food insecurity,” she told the Source.
So far, Silver Spring Cares has raised over $115,000 from 890 donors and a $10,000 grant from the Morningstar Foundation, and served more than 11,500 meals.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to have generous community members who have received their stimulus checks and because they wanted to give back to their community in a meaningful way, have handed the money right over to us,” de Castillo said.
Residents are contributing in other creative ways as well, she added.
“We recently had a neighbor approach us about donating his time and supplies to grow seedlings in his house to run a sidewalk plant sale that would benefit the Community Connection program,” de Castillo said.
“It’s grown into the ‘Spring Start Seedling Sale’ and we’ve gotten reservations for over 180 plants, and received over $1,000 in donations,” she added.
The program shows no sign of slowing and will continue as long as donations and the need continues during a pandemic no one thought would last the long.
Monica O’Malley de Castillo hands a meal from El Golfo to a resident during a distribution event. Photo by Roxanne Yamashita of Small Things Matter