In today’s inflationary economy, the rising costs of gas, rent and food have put a strain on many households. This places our program participants, many of whom already live paycheck to paycheck, in a particularly difficult position.
Fisherman’s Mark can’t buy gas for our clients, but we can – and do – ensure they have access to nourishing, healthful food and essential household items.
Having said that, it is with great pride that I introduce to you the Fisherman’s Mark Free MARKet, a simple but profound re-branding of our food pantry. Changing our language from “food pantry” to “Free MARKet” was an easy choice. It removes the stigma that goes along with “pantry” and “MARKet” is, of course, a deliberate play on words that proudly highlights our name. It’s a name that has stood for “help when help is needed” for 42 years.
The Free MARKet is a place where individuals and families come for essential and nutritional items. More, it is a place where they feel welcomed, supported, and embraced by a staff of caring volunteers who fill their bags with an abundance of items, free of charge.
Unsurprisingly, our Free MARKet numbers are on the rise (see below). In August of 2021 we recorded 850 MARKet visits. September of 2022 saw a 70% increase to 1450 visits. Fortunately, thanks to our community of donors and volunteers, we have, to date, been able to meet the increase in demand.
Our goal has always been to provide a pathway to self-sufficiency with a deep and compassionate understanding of the overwhelming struggles that people encounter everyday. With your help, we will continue to be here for local families in need in 2022 and for years to come.
What should you do with a surplus of delicious, healthy zucchini? If you’re Dottie and Jim Hanly, you bake about 100 loaves of zucchini bread for our Free MARKet! Their baking skills not only provided a healthy treat, they also helped promote our zero-waste policy. This initiative, in association with Grow-a-Row, utilizes our generous volunteers’ kitchen skills and makes more efficient (and delicious) use of items that have a short shelf life.
“The United States discards more food than any other country in the world: nearly 40 million tons — 80 billion pounds — every year.3 That’s estimated to be 30-40 percent of the entire US food supply,4 and equates to 219 pounds of waste per person.5 That’s like every person in America throwing more than 650 average sized apples right into the garbage” ~ Natural Resources Defense Council
The Lambertville Academy (LA) Early Childhood Learning Center, located at 87 North Main Street, is one of the pillars of Fisherman’s Mark, and a fixture of the Lambertville community for 38 years. It currently serves 76 children, including 10% on tuition assistance from Fisherman’s Mark.
In 2019, Board of Trustees member Jose Falconi learned there was an unused outdoor space behind the LA building. An accomplished gardener with many years of experience restoring and improving landscapes, he and his wife, Betsy Falconi, took on the challenge of creating what is now the “Learning Garden”, an outdoor space for education and recreation connecting Lambertville Academy students to the world outdoors.
Falconi worked with friends from Schumacher & Associates Landscaping to clear the lot of weeds and debris; repair and rebuild steps and walkways; build gardens and a central patio area; and add a permanent table and seating area in a shaded spot for year-round use. Lambertville Academy students were fascinated to watch the process from start to finish.
The Lambertville Academy Learning Garden was completed and ready for use in July. Falconi’s wish is that it “endures as a source of pride and inspiration for many years to come, and that it inspires the parents of our children to bring them into contact with the natural world as often as possible.
Lisa Milisivana, the Director of Lambertville Academy, extolled the benefits of the $17K renovation. “It can be used as an open reading area, for art projects, and for science projects, as it exposes children to the environmental benefits of pollinator gardens,” she said. “This is the best the space has looked in the 15 years I’ve been with Lambertville Academy.”
“Lambertville Academy is a wonderful example of how a responsible and caring community looks after its children,” Falconi said. “I urge everyone reading this to visit us at the free MARKet, or the Academy or our administrative offices on 60 Wilson Street. Talk to our volunteers. Ask for an overview. And look at the information on our website. There are dozens of ways to get involved, large and small, and all of them are meaningful.”
If you’d like to visit the Learning Garden, contact the Lambertville Academy at (609)397-8477. To donate, visit www.fishermansmark.org/donations.
Board of Trustees member Jose Falconi and wife, Betsy Falconi generously donate and oversee the creating of the Lambertville Academy Learning Garden
Kathy Franklin moved to Lambertville in 2012. Two weeks later, Hurricane Sandy dropped a tree on her house. “In the ensuing weeks, I came to know what a generous and welcoming community this is,” says Franklin. “Neighbors and friends offered food, hot showers and housing to this new arrival.”.
In the years that followed, Kathy developed local friendships with pantry volunteers and supporters of Fisherman’s Mark, all of whom spoke glowingly about its x and its role in the community. When she retired from a career in social work in 2019, she applied to volunteer.
“I knew that the food pantry was an important source of sustenance. What I had never realized was how much more Fisherman’s Mark provides, from social services to childhood education,” she said. “And when I volunteered to answer phones during the Hurricane Ida crisis, I realized how absolutely essential Fisherman’s Mark is to this community.”
“Kathy does it all,” said Jennifer Williford, Executive Director of Fisherman’s Mark. “ She works in the free MARKet, provides administrative support and even donates planters for our administration office. She worked tirelessly during the immediate days following Hurricane Ida and sat on the Hurricane Ida Relief Grant Committee.”
“I’m proud to be a part of the Fisherman’s Mark community because of the genuine concern and respect the agency shows to its clients, their responsiveness, flexibility and creative programming,” she said.
“Kathy is very compassionate and has such a warm and loving way about her,” Williford said. “Her background as a social worker makes her a great fit for us. Everyone who works alongside Kathy adores her. She is dedicated, kind and always willing to help out.”
Kathy has a daughter who splits her time between NYC and Lambertville, a stepson, and a large extended family. When not volunteering for Fisherman’s Mark she enjoys hiking, reading, drawing, visiting galleries and museums, traveling and socializing with the friendly folks in Lambertville.