Bidwell Riverside has served those in need for nearly 125 years. The organization operates the highest volume food pantry in Central Iowa and a Child Development Center that provides early education to young learners, including those from low or very low-income households. But in 2015 the organization was in danger of closing its doors to the many it serves.
When the Community Foundation was approached about the critical challenges being faced by Bidwell Riverside, conversations were immediately convened to determine how best to continue these important services. One individual at the table was Tim Shanahan, executive director of Hawthorn Hill, an organization that operates housing programs for homeless families with children.
Through thoughtful conversation community leaders determined the best course of action was to move to shared management of Hawthorn Hill and Bidwell Riverside. “As I was considering if Hawthorn Hill should begin this collaborative work, I visited Bidwell Riverside’s distribution center,” says Tim. “When I entered I unexpectedly became emotional. I saw refugees, working adults and senior citizens who never thought they would need such services receiving basic food and care items. I realized how important this partnership would be for those we serve and the community.” In the first year alone of this collaboration, Bidwell Riverside has successfully carried out its mission by helping more than 15,000 individuals, educating 53 children and distributing more than 635,000 food items to families in need.