In July, Heath Goodman assumed the executive director role with the knowledge that the organization's thrift store would be a key source of funding for the nonprofit. However that has not been the case, leading Goodman to cover various bills with his personal finances.
"When I took over I basically took over a struggling food bank," Goodman said. "Metro Community Assistance was already having a hard time ... What happened is when I took over, we had some idea of what we thought the thrift store was going to generate ... and it didn't pan out to be like that.
"So we've been really struggling because of the rent, utilities and things like that. The thrift store is not making the money to help ... sustain itself because of the square footage. So it's kind of gotten us in a bind where we have gotten behind on our rent here and we can't turn on the gas. We've been using little electric heaters to try to heat some of these big spaces in the ministry because I'm so tight with my budget right now."
Located at 611D Grassdale Road in Cartersville, My Brother's Keeper provides various services to the community, some of which include a food bank, thrift store, and job and college scholarship assistance. On Tuesdays from 2 to 4 p.m., the nonprofit provides food obtained through various sources such as the Atlanta Community Food Bank and Cartersville's Walmart to about 125 households, feeding an estimated 500 individuals, in addition to nearly six other local organizations.
According to the organization's website, www.mybrotherskeeper.com, "Our food pantry mission [is] to reduce or eliminate hunger through programs and partnerships which efficiently obtain and distribute nutritious food and other products to people in need. Our staff and volunteers provide groceries to hungry people and low income families. We distribute grocery bags consisting of a three-day supply of food adjusted to household size.
"Eligible clients are residents of either Bartow or Cobb counties, have incomes of 125 percent or less of the federal poverty line, and are either elderly, disabled or families with children. Eligible clients may receive food once or twice each month at the center or other times if surplus needs to be distributed."
For Goodman, serving as the nonprofit's executive director has increased his awareness of the need that exists in Bartow County for organizations like My Brother's Keeper.
"My eyes have been open because we assume at first, well there's a lot of government programs out there -- welfare and social services -- that people are being able [to] access," Goodman said. "So America doesn't need food banks and all these other nonprofits doing the same thing ... There's no hunger need in America.
"Well, according to the data that's out there in Hunger in America, [there are significantly more] people that are now ... on welfare since 2008 and it continues to grow. Of course that's because of the unemployment rate and all the other things that have happened. And of course Bartow County and Cartersville in particular have been hit hard."
For more information about the organization, to place a donation or to find out information about corporate sponsorships, call 678-719-1093. My Brother's Keeper is open from Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and if supplies are available, food is distributed when emergency situations arise.