Gigi Canada was glad to know there was someone who could help her family through a tough time.
“Mainly, it’s the economy,” said Canada, whose husband recently spent five weeks out of work because of an illness.
The illness, combined with the rising prices of food, clothing and gasoline, sent her family to Third Saturday at Mosaic United Methodist Church to seek some assistance for food for them and clothing for her 11-year-old son, Alex.
“And prayer. I can always use that,” she said.
Members of Mosaic and Christ the King Lutheran Church work together on the outreach, which began last August and is held the third Saturday of each month. The services offered and the number of people served have grown since it began, said Susan Niklinski, who coordinates the project.
“Our main purpose was to help by giving food,” she said.
Despite stereotypes about Columbia County’s affluent demographics, there are families who need assistance, and many don’t know where to turn in the event of a job loss, divorce or other circumstance, Niklinski said.
The program has grown to include free haircuts, blood pressure and blood sugar screenings, GED information, job resources, pet food, clothing, baby items including diapers and formula, and more. The outreach’s newest initiative is a community garden at the church, which will provide produce, but families will can plant and tend their own gardens.
Since the program began, about 200 families have been served. On Feb. 16, 27 families and 89 individuals received services. The program’s next date is Saturday, March 16.
Jean, who asked that her last name not to be used, heard about Third Saturday from a friend.
“I’ve been unemployed for a year,” she said. “This is pretty cool. They are offering an awful lot.”
She also took advantage of some of the health screenings and information provided there.
Niklinski said she sees the program continuing to grow not only in the number of recipients but in services offered. She hopes for the possibility of having dental screenings in the future.
“As it grows, we will be able to do more,” she said.