Spring/Summer 2019

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Brenda Swain

  Have you ever really thought about the saying: "Think globally, act locally?"  Between Dec. 22 and Jan. 25 many of us were thrust into an experience unlike any other in our lifetimes: the longest-ever partial federal shutdown.  Since I always look for the positive in even the most challenging times, the "cup half full,"  I am writing this column on how for the Falmouth Service Center this event was a testimony on the power and compassion of our community.

   A few days after news broke that about 800,000 federal employees would not be paid or have to work without pay for an unknown period of time, our Board of Directors made a unanimous decision to expand our financial assistance program both in geographic scope and in the amount of stabilization support to be provided to each household in need. We conducted outreach via collaborating agencies, social media, news outlets, and to our FSC community to let them know we were here. What ensued was a snapshot of every emotion and reaction one could imagine both in those who came to FSC in need and found supportive volunteers providing care and concern, and through the generosity of an unprecedented community  response. Our larger world was in turmoil, but here on the Upper Cape, neighbors were taking care of neighbors in the best possible way.

   During the shutdown FSC food distribution was up 11% in our pantry; and our "FRESH Markets" at Falmouth schools and at Joint Base Cape Cod (JBCC) throughout the 35 days of the shutdown went from an average of 85 households to 130 twice in the schools, and from 180 households to 280 on JBCC; and on Jan. 30, just after the shutdown ended, we assisted 188 households which is up slightly from our average. Distribution is now back to a “normal” pace in all programs .

      Financial Assistance during this period, January 1 to February 5, 2019 showed:

  •          31 non-federal households receiving $20,732, averaging $669 per household;
  •          24 furloughed households receiving $29,947, averaging $1,248 per household. 

Total financial assistance provided was $50,679, which was a significant change compared to last year at this time when just 29 households received $13,911, averaging $480 per household.

     The number of requests for assistance with mortgages and rent starkly revealed the lack of affordable housing on Cape Cod, and how missing two paychecks could push an individual or family into homelessness. With few exceptions each person requesting housing assistance was spending a significant portion of their monthly earned income solely for housing.  For comparison if you live in an affordable situation, for housing you expend 30% of your monthly income.

     Major grantors such as The Falmouth Fund of the Cape Cod Foundation, Cape Cod Five, and Heroes in Transition, who have for years been working by our side, bestowed emergency grants to assist in the short term, as did numerous individual donors who gave funds and time to support this effort.  Most remarkably, some of the individuals receiving assistance also volunteered throughout the shutdown as they needed and wanted to be active, engaged, and supportive at a time when they felt vulnerable.

      The good news: the 35-day shutdown is over, everyone who came for help was welcomed, and FSC with its hundreds of dedicated volunteers and donors was the intermediary for a local miracle during a national crisis.




After transitioning from our beloved Emerald House (EH) Thrift Shop in July 2018 to Hand in hand Thrift Shop, FSC’s expanded enterprise, the shop has beyond a doubt exceeded every expectation in the short 8 months it has been open. Hand in hand is now FSC’s largest revenue stream. Since July 2018, 150 new volunteers have joined the loyal EH team bringing our numbers close to 200 active thrift shop volunteers. The camaraderie and high spirit both in the processing areas and retail space create an atmosphere of excitement and enjoyment that is shared by those who are working, donating and shopping. Our donations, generously provided by the community are trinkets, treasures and items of the highest standards.  We have unique wooden furniture, art work from Cape Cod and around the world, clothing from major designers in children to adult sizes, jewelry of every type and so many other specialty houseware, gift items, and surprise finds.  Many shoppers come weekly because the merchandise moves so quickly through the shop that each day is a new day to find exactly what you didn’t know you were looking for!

      Thanks to the relocation of all our donation processing to Hand in hand, our pantry at FSC has expanded and we are providing more fresh veggies, fruits, meats and other items that clients need and desire. Additionally, the increased revenue from the shop is supporting our ability to expend greater funds for housing stabilization, and other identified client needs.  Make Hand in hand a destination today!  Enjoy your shopping experience while supporting FSC’s mission at the same time. hand_in_hand_glassware.jpg



The last day of school isn’t even here yet and we are already planning for the first day of school in September! As part of our Fresh Start back-to-school program, numerous Falmouth children in need will receive backpacks filled with brand-new school supplies, a complete set of back-to-school clothes plus a gift card towards the purchase of a new set of sneakers.  

Our greatest need for this program is your assistance! Would you like to help fill the profile of a child or contribute a backpack?  Oftentimes a book group, a family group, or several friends pool resources to fill a profile or order several backpacks to donate.  We especially need sturdy, dark-colored backpacks for kids 12-18! If you would like to help by filling a profile, please contact Sue Ball at 508-564-4781. Thank you for helping to give many Falmouth children a Fresh Start!  fresh_start_donation.jpg



We are incredibly grateful to once again have a team running in the Falmouth Road Race through the Numbers for NonProfits Program. If you would like to join our team, you will help us raise critical funds and reduce local hunger while running in a world-famous race.  If you, a family member, or out-of-town friend need a number for the race and would like to help us raise funds in support of our mission, contact us at 508-548-2794 or email Kerin Delaney, Deputy Director at 


Beginning in January, 2019, we now have a mobile dental clinic available at FSC!  The first Monday of the month through October, you will find Mobile Dental Hygiene Services in our new Health/Wellness room!

Please call 508-827-6725 to make an appointment or for more information.  Mobile Dental Hygiene Services accepts MAHealth Insurance and private payment.


The Falmouth Service Center is proud to share our incredible highlights of 2018.  Click here to see all that we accomplished!


The Falmouth Service Center Board of Directors, staff, volunteers, and most importantly our neighbors who need us, wish to offer a heartfelt THANK YOU to the generous donors who support the annual Falmouth Enterprise Community Fund.  The Falmouth Enterprise's support of the Community Fund dates back to 1994, when the Community Fund under then-Editor, Margaret Russell, raised $12,700 for FSC.

Current Editor, Bill Hough, and his team at The Falmouth Enterprise donate their time and media network to underscore the importance of this spirited campaign and to raise much needed funds. 

Donations come from Falmouth and beyond, and are coupled with more than 34,000 FSC volunteer hours annually. Donations for the year ending December 31, 2018, for the 25th anniversary of the Falmouth Enterprise Community Fund totalled $114,781.  THANK YOU ALL.