In 2006, NMES was asked to operate the Back to School Fair which serves low-income families of school children in Neenah and Menasha. Since that time, the number of students attending the Back to School Fair has grown from 400 to over 1,300 students. Prior to NMES operating the Back to School Fair, children in need who could benefit from the Fair were identified by social service workers and public nurses. NMES members began a collaborative effort with both the Neenah and Menasha school districts to reach out to children in need and the number of children attending increased dramatically.
Children of families in need are identified by schools, social service agencies and other sources. All of these children qualify for the free lunch program at their schools. Once the consent of the families is obtained, their information is forwarded to NMES. NMES then sends an entry ticket for the Fair to each child.
The Fair is held in August of each year. At that time, each child receives a backpack containing supplies, a certificate for a pair of shoes redeemable at Rogan’s, and a gift card. Other items are also available at the Fair. Representatives from other community organizations and agencies are on hand to provide information about the services they offer to children and their families.These organizations have included the Neenah and Menasha Joint School Districts, Neenah-Menasha Fire Rescue, YMCA, Neenah and Menasha public libraries, Boys and Girls Brigade, Best Friends of Neenah-Menasha, LEAVEN, Community Clothes Closet, St. Vincent DePaul thrift shop and Goodwill.
Shoes for Students
In 1999, NMES initiated a project to address an ongoing need of school children in Neenah and Menasha. School teachers were seeing increased numbers of students in need of adequate footwear. Children were wearing shoes that were worn out; often handed down from one family member to the next. Many of the shoes were the wrong size, potentially affecting the health and development of the child.
To address this concern, NMES created its Shoes for Students project. This project provides shoe certificates to school-aged children who need shoes but cannot afford them. Children in need of appropriate footwear are identified by their schools and NMES is contacted. NMES then issues a shoe certificate redeemable at Rogans for a pair of shoes. This program has been incorporated into the NMES Back to School Fair so that each child who attends the Back to School Fair receives a shoe certificate along with a backpack and other supplies. This gives these children the opportunity to start the school year with a new pair of well-fitting shoes. Certificates are still issued on an as-needed basis during the school year; however the number of requests for shoe certificates during that time has dropped dramatically due to the success of the Back to School Fair.
Snow Pants for Children
For most elementary school students residing in Neenah and Menasha, lunch periods and recesses during winter months involve building forts and playing in the snow. Unfortunately, that is not the case for all students. For students who do not own a pair of snow pants, recesses are often spent standing on the blacktop so his or her clothing does not get wet. This is where NMES comes in.
NMES’ Snow Pants for Students Program is a companion program of the Shoes for Students project. This program provides snow pants to elementary school students who do not have their own.
Students are referred to the program by their school principals, teachers or counselors. These school officials provide NMES with the clothing size of the child needing snow pants. When NMES receives a request, a pair of snow pants is delivered to the school and the school official delivers the snow pants to the student.
Meals on Wheels
The Meals on Wheels program was inaugurated in 1966 by members of the Neenah-Menasha Emergency Society with the goal of providing hot, nutritious, and diet-specific meals to the elderly and the homebound members of our community. Initially the program had one volunteer team delivering six meals from Theda Clark Hospital’s dietary department to the clients’ homes. The demand for this program has expanded to six routes per weekday with a maximum of 12 meals per route.
NMES now collaborates with the Valley VNA and Theda Clark to operate the program. NMES prepares and coordinates route maps, drivers’ schedules, and driver training; the VNA receives the request for the service, billing, and driver notification; and the Theda Clark dietary department prepares the diet-specific meals and packs them in large tote bags for the drivers.
This is the only in-home meal service in the community that will provide for specific dietary restrictions such as low sodium and low fat. Each meal includes both a hot and cold portion as well as a beverage. Meals are delivered between 11:00 and 12:00 to the home of each client. The cost of the meal is paid by the client but the delivery is done by the more than 150 monthly community volunteers.
Started in 1999, the Fox Valley Community Table has been providing a free lunch two days per week to anyone in need. Food is prepared and served by a variety of service organizations in the Neenah-Menasha area. NMES participates in this community wide effort to help feed those who cannot afford food. Several times a year members of Neenah-Menasha Emergency Society donate, prepare, and serve these meals which are free of charge to those who attend. The meals are served at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Neenah.