Posted on Jul 10, 2023
Amanda Block is the founder of GRACE. GRACE is an acronym for giving and receiving assistance for our community’s essentials.

From GRACE’s website: “GRACE stems from eight months of research and conversations in 2015-2016 with local leaders, agencies, and institutions.

Our first month of Family Fun Nights in August 2016 grew into the weekly GRACE distribution thanks to the Summit Interfaith Council, Christ Church, Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Central Presbyterian Church, and the City of Summit’s Department of Community Programs. Five months into GRACE’s inception, the Junior League of Summit adopted GRACE as a project which gave us the necessary governance and administrative support to stabilize and grow.

In October 2019, GRACE moved from Christ Church to the Cornog Field House, where it flourished. In July 2020, the City Council of the City of Summit unanimously voted to name GRACE a program of the City of Summit. In June 2023 GRACE moved distribution to The Summit Community Center, providing  more access to community programs and services that support our neighbors in need.”

The GRACE program grew out of research into what the basic needs are of the “working poor,” i.e., those who are employed but still have insufficient funds to meet life’s necessities. In most cases they are nutritious food and other essentials such as cleaning supplies, bathroom supplies - toilet paper, diapers, and sundries such as simple children/family entertainment – e.g., books and board games. The research goes on – e.g., it was learned that superior quality socks are as important as superior quality shoes, possibly more so – GRACE distributes superior quality socks to those who need them.

When GRACE began in 2016, they were assisting roughly one hundred families per week. During covid, the numbers swelled to over five hundred and currently the number tops four hundred and Amanda expects it to grow.

So, once a week, bags of nutrient dense food, fresh vegetables, fruit, dairy, etc., as well as necessity sundries are given to those in need.

Everything distributed is donated by either suppliers of the produce/products or purchased through donations or through contributions from other eleemosynary organizations.

Finally, in addition to the many religious institutions in Summit, GRACE is aligned with Summit’s department of Community Programs and both Union County and the State. Besides giving, GRACE is always trying to connect its users with other available resources such as medical, dental, educational, and social services.

For those interested in more information about GRACE, it is available on their web site: https://www.gracegivingreceiving.org/home .