To serve qualifying residents of Erie County fairly and with dignity in providing emergency and supplemental food, clothing, linens, and house wares as available.
All clients will be treated with respect and will be allowed to exercise choice to the extent possible, without discrimination. Care and Share will adhere to all government regulations. When service limitations are necessary, they will be scaled according to family size. Care and Share will provide an avenue for donors to share generously with those in need through gifts of cash, goods, and volunteer services.
The Church Women United organized Care and Share in 1971, it is a public, non-profit, faith based agency which works to help the community by reducing the stigma surrounding food insecurity and working to eradicate hunger. Some of the prominent founders were Millie Millar, Murita Ott, Mary Lee Wood, Ruth Parker, and Rev. Paul Stengel.
Distribution of clothing, food, and furniture started on Wayne Street in the Till Dairy Building formerly located where the back of Citizens Bank is now, it then moved to the Feick building. Not having enough room they moved to the Erie County Office Building on Columbus Avenue (known as the “the Old Folks Home”).
The search for space continued and clients needing services were sent to various locations: food at Trinity United Methodist Church; clothing at St. Paul Lutheran Church; bedding and linens at First Congregational U.C.C.; and furniture at the Osborne Park warehouse.
In the meantime, the cooperative charity consisting of area churches, synagogues, and foundations continued this system until 1991 when Rev. Hal Mills, Sister Terry Maher, city commissioner Bob Kline and Ken Brewster decided to form a Center. Ruth Parker donated use of her building at Market and Hancock Streets. Calvary Temple joined Trinity United Methodist in the Pantry work. The Ministries Council would appoint members to Care and Share’s Board and were the back bone of the organization providing all the volunteers to run and provide services to clients.
Care and Share Inc. of Erie County incorporated in 1974. In 1992, John Fenton, President of Care and Share Board, negotiated with First Presbyterian Church to occupy their building on 241 Jackson Street. After one year of cleaning and reconstruction work prepared the building for bringing all operations under one location. President, John Fenton, was the acting Director of the Agency until 2006.
The Board decided not to fill the Director’s position when John stepped down. In 2007 it was determined a director was needed to manage Care and Share. At this time, the Board’s President, Dan Ward, was hired as the Executive Director.
In 2010 a massive renovation of the building was completed thanks to the financial support of five local foundations: Erie County Community, Frost-Parker, Wightman-Weiber, Dorn, and Frohman, along with a gift from George Mylander for the project ($65,000)
Care and Share started with the concept of providing food, clothing, linens, housewares and furniture to those in need. The changing needs drove the growth and transformation of the organization into a true Choice Pantry. Care and Share discontinued furniture in 2010 in order to offer a Choice Food pantry and continue the Choice Clothing/Houseware Pantry.
Why is it called a Choice Pantry and not just a pantry? The philosophy here is to provide a grocery store feel and shopping experience to members of the community. This allows people to choose healthy food items they prefer and enjoy with their family, versus a prepackaged bag/box of items they may not like, creating waste.
Many THANKS to the religious organizations, foundations and businesses, who had the foresight to collaborate and come together to meet the need in their community. We now have this wonderful organization to serve the community of Erie County to help fellow neighbors and friends with supplemental/emergency food .