The Beacon Board of Directors made a decision to close the building on March 16 after receiving notice from the Feeding America, (a food bank) state, and local health authorities in response to the COVID-19 virus.
The Beacon is a local helping agency, whose main focus is food to those in need.
At the time of the building closure, a new procedure for obtaining The Beacon Food Box was initiated.
Clients were asked to call during normal business hours and arrangements were made to pick up the food off the dock at the rear of the building, Director David Gillen said.
“We felt this was our best approach for our staff and our clients to maintain social distancing,” Gillen said. “We also asked our clients in need of financial assistance or guidance to please call in and ask to speak with the director.”
After having been employed for four years by the Beacon, David Gillen became the director in June 2020. Patty Mowen became the assistant director, at this time.
“The Beacon will open its doors by appointment only starting Oct 13th thru Oct 31st for our clients to apply for their 2021 Beacon Cards,” he said. “At this time we will also be doing the sign-up for the 2020 Adopt A Child Program / Elks Christmas Baskets.”
Work On The Building
In recent weeks there have been some physical changes to the Beacon building at 525 E. Sixth. Some for esthetics and some for protection in the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“The front entrance of the Beacon has been given a new facelift, with paint and new flooring, Gillen said in an email interview.
In addition, new racks have been built for food storage, the main priority of the ministry.
“These improvements could not have been accomplished without the help of Wib Mowen, Patty Mowen’s husband, volunteering,” Gillen said.
Personal protective sneeze guards have been placed on desks in the building.
“Plastic face shields will be used for our protection and the clients when they are allowed in the building, and our clients must wear masks,” Gillen said.
Also going on at this time has been the entering of all the Beacon clients information into a computer, allowing accurate records to be kept, he said.
Beacon Food Distribution
“The Beacon Food Distribution is for all Bourbon County residents who qualify for a Beacon Food Card.,” Gillen said. “Their cards can be used immediately after they are qualified. Cards can be used two times a month.”
“Emergency food requests are granted for anyone in the county who has lost their job, illness as caused them from being able to work, house fire, or any other extraneous circumstance as it is our goal to help those in need.”
“The food we distribute comes from a monthly budget and grants we have received,” he said. “We make purchases from the Kansas Food Bank, GW Foods and Walmart. We also receive generous donations from local food drives, churches, civic organizations, businesses, schools and the local post office. We also receive donated items of meat, bakery and produce items from Walmart three times a week as part of their supporting the Feed America Program.”
Clients receive eggs, butter, fresh meat, bread, canned goods, peanut butter, beans, rice, soups, potatoes, mac and cheese, spaghetti with sauce, cereal and pastry,
“Baskets vary in size according to family size,” Gillen said. “We also offer fresh fruit and vegetables when available.”
“The Beacon is so blessed to exist in a community that so many people help us to help others,” he said.
Retired professional sign painter Joe Lee, a personal friend of Patty and Wib Mowen, painted a mural of a lighthouse for display in the Beacon.
“Joe volunteered his time and supplies,” Gillen said. “The Beacon is so thankful for this wonderful gift…Joe also painted our sign by the back deck…which was made by Wib Mowen.”
The back porch has been extended to allow more free items to be left out, Gillen said.
“Thank you Ralph Carlson and Don Tucker for volunteering and the material you provided,” he said.