BY JANICE LLANES FABRY
Almost forty years ago, a nascent soup kitchen in the Bronx turned on its burners much like the little engine that could. Today, POTS (Part of the Solution) is a leading provider of emergency food and social services to thousands of low-income families in the borough.
A virtual benefit will be held on May 26 at 7 to pay homage to its mission, nourishing the basic human needs of all those who arrive at its doorstep on Webster Avenue. “Open Door, Open Heart” will honor Chris Bean and Maureen Gomez. Bean, who served as Executive Director from 2012-2018, will receive the POTS Founder Award for Distinguished Service. Gomez will receive the Heart of Gold award for her almost ten-year commitment and for coordinating Thanksgiving and Christmas meals for clients who would not have access to a holiday meal otherwise.
“Our benefitwill be a celebration of community and the people who make our work possible,” said Executive Director Christina Hanson. “Chris Bean and Maureen Gomez are true partners in POTS’ efforts to provide our neighbors in poverty with access to the essentials of life and the support necessary to achieve stability and ultimately self-sufficiency.”
Dan Rostan, who has over 30 years’ experience in non-profit fundraising and has served as POTS Director of Development since 2019, declares, “I love this organization and its mission. What started as a soup kitchen has become a one-stop shop that treats clients as individuals holistically. That’s our secret sauce.”
Indeed, POTS provides a full spectrum of programs that meet the basic needs and preserve the dignity of each client. Emergency Services offer healthy meals from the community kitchen five days a week and a food pantry with fresh produce and high fiber selections. Then there are Day-To-Day Services providing such fundamentals as hot showers and clothing.
Comprehensive Case Management helps clients access the full array of resources, which include Next Step Services for assistance with mental health, food stamps, unemployment, and eviction prevention, to Partner Services such as medical and dental clinic appointments, immigration assistance, narcotics anonymous, and tax preparation.
Development Manager Angela Collard, who has been with POTS since 2016, explained that most services were available during the pandemic because they revamped the organization’s in-person model and engaged in considerable outreach.
She hopes the benefit, held in place of the postponed 2020 spring gala, will meet its fundraising goal of $350,000 so POTS may continue alleviating the struggles of the community now and into the future. Co-chaired by Carrie Heffernan, Julie Souza, Sarah Burchetta, and Anita Davis, it will feature stories from the POTS’ community, entertainment, guest speakers, and a silent auction. All proceeds go directly to POTS programs.
“POTS recognizes the complexity of poverty and sees the full person,” noted Collard. “Everyone has a story and each person’s needs are supported in a number of ways in an environment that is warm and welcoming.”
For more information about the organization, the virtual benefit, and donations, visit potsbronx.org.