Meeting Community Needs - Sonny Day of Warren Township

Meeting Community Needs

Kathryn Basham joins us for this presentation about Sonny Day, a food and clothing pantry serving the East side of Indianapolis, and supported by the Warren Council of PTAs.

Find out more information on their website:

Here is the transcript from the presentation:

Ryan: As August is back to school month, I’d like to introduce our speaker today, Kathryn Basham, who Kathryn and I met through the Indianapolis East Rotary Club.

Ryan: Going, just ahead of COVID, I believe, is when Kathryn joined us and as soon as I got to know her and Sonny Day, which is the food, clothing and toiletries pantry that she volunteers with. It is inspiring to see what people can do when they identify a need in their community and work together to try and accomplish that.

Ryan: So, everybody, it is an honor to introduce to you today Kathryn Basham with Sonny Day, Warren Township. So, everyone, let’s give Kathryn a hand.

Kathryn: Thank you. Thank you, Ryan. Thank you.

Kathryn: Everyone OK, so let me see if I can figure out how to share my screen.

Kathryn: Didn’t work. Share screen.: 00:01:14: OK.

Kathryn: OK. Can everybody, can everybody see that? Yep, OK.

Kathryn: All right. So, I am going to back up one step, so, Sonny Day, our food, toiletry, clothing, pantry is actually run by the Warren Township Council of PTAs.

Kathryn: So, we are, there are three levels of PTA’s. If you’re not familiar with that, you have the national PTA, then you go into, you know, one of the 50 state PTAs, and then underneath that you can have a council PTA that then divides up into the local PTA’s. That would be in each individual school. So, the Warren Township Council of PTAs is located here in Warren Township on the east side of Indianapolis.

Kathryn: A couple different things.

Kathryn: And we run Sonny Day, we run and we offer a discount card that we put together for our local PTA units to offer as a membership benefit, and we run Warren Home Fest.

Kathryn: So, if you’re familiar with that, that is a big community event that’s held here in September.

Kathryn: So, our officers, just to let you know, are myself, as President, and then I have Casey Thomas, she’s the vice president. She helps coordinate Sonny Day for me at the head level.

Kathryn: And then Veronica Grimes, as she helped put together our discount card, our Treasurer, Diane Simon, and our secretaries, Tim Walkers, and we are all 100% volunteers. This is something that we do on this side.

Kathryn: So here is our Sonny Day team, I wanted to give you guys, a, you know, a quick glimpse of who we are. So, I’m going to go from left to right.

Kathryn: So, Karen Kinley, she is the face that you see on the left. She is in charge of our pre-orders, which I will describe in detail in just a second. Then we have Casey Thomas, she’s in charge of our clothing department, and I have Carissa Dollar, she does all of our administration paperwork that we need to submit to, whether it’s Midwest Food Bank or Gleaners or additional things on the side.

Kathryn: Next is Tonya Turner. She’s in charge of our food. And then you’ll see myself, and then lastly is, at, well, I guess I’m in charge of the delivery. So, I guess I need to tell you that, so, so, any of the food or any of the donations that come in to Sonny Day, that’s something that I coordinate and then me and my volunteer team put it away in the different, you know, designated locations.

Kathryn: And then the last one is Sharon Berry and she is in charge of our toiletries.

Kathryn: OK, so I just ran through all of that for you, let me do that again.

Kathryn: Sonny Day because we’re located on the east side. We, we make sure that we have yard signs that are out throughout the Community. We predominantly put them in front of all of our schools.

Kathryn: So right. Now we have 16 different buildings here in Warren Township school buildings that we put our yard sign in front of it. And we’ve made sure that they’re bilingual if you can see that.

Kathryn: So, Sonny Day part stays the same, but then we, you know, translate it into Spanish- food, toiletries and clothing so that we can hit as many of our community members in need as possible.

Kathryn: And we are located in the Community-, or Moorhead Community Resource Center. So, that is basically at 10th and Post Rd, if you’re familiar with this side of town. Yeah, this is new for us.

Kathryn: This is a new home. We’ve been here about almost two years.

Kathryn: They reopened Morehead Elementary into the Community Center and as part they asked for our pantry to move over into this location so that we could serve more of the people in our community.

Kathryn: The top, you’ll see our business cards. So, if anybody is interested in having some of these business cards, maybe you just, you know, put them up, your, your office, your front desk, and I will gladly drop them off or even mail them to you. We serve all that are in need.

Kathryn: So, there are several pantries in Marion County, that maybe you have to be within a certain zip code, that is not the, the way Sonny Day operates. So, we will welcome anybody and everybody. You do not have to have a driver’s license. We just ask some basic questions.

Kathryn: We just need to know how many people are in your household. Is anybody a veteran, the ages of the people in your household, that helps us steer towards, maybe we need to have diapers, you know, do you have young people. Do you need baby food, and the, you know, up to the elderly, so you know we which would be adult diapers, things of that nature.

Kathryn: So, we just try to make sure that we ask generic questions, but enough information that helps us move our pantry to fit our community members that are in need of our assistance.

Kathryn: So, our business cards are also bilingual as well.

Kathryn: So, we primarily see English speaking and Hispanic speaking, but we do get some Creole and French have come through at times, but mainly this is our two predominant languages.

Kathryn: So, Sonny Day, we are almost officially 10 years old.

Kathryn: So, we were, we have a birthday coming up here in September that will mark our 10th, 10th anniversary and we were initially set up by again the Council PTA and what is called out Heather Hill / Highlander Park at Adult Education Center.

Kathryn: And it was, Sonny Day was established as a toiletry pantry, so for two years they ran off of donations from the community that provided students, solely student, students only in Warren Township with toothbrushes, hair brushes and deodorant, things of that necessity.

Kathryn: And then we were able to partner with Gleaners and with Midwest Food Bank and starting back, back in 2014 with those partnerships. We then added food to our inventory and then, we have been about five years now, that we have offered clothing. So, we take clothing, gently used clothing donations as well.

Kathryn: I think they can, new clothing as well, and uhm, at our pantry. So again, we started off with toiletries and now we’re more well-rounded. So, food, toiletries, and clothing.

Kathryn: I told you the address, so Morehead Community Resource Center is located basically at 10th and Post Road. We are open twice a month, so we’re open on the 2nd Saturday of the month, 9:00 to 11:00 AM. We’re open on the 4th Thursday evening from 6:00 to 7:30 PM and then now that we’re located in Morehead Community Resource Center, Warren Township has allowed us to train the Morehead staff to distribute emergency supplies during the day, and there are several days that they are open from 8:00 to 8:00 PM, so if a family comes to the center and they are in need of something like food, toiletries or the clothing.

Kathryn: We have given them the paperwork they need to track some of those basic questions that we then, you know, submit back to leaders and that we use, you know for ourselves as well.

Kathryn: Uhm, it has made a huge difference in our coordinators lives now that we’re located in the Moorhead Community Resource Center because, like I said, we’re volunteers. So, when the emergency purposes came up, we were scrambling to see who was available ’cause we have families, we have other activities, we have lots of things going on in our lives, so.

Kathryn: And the impact of being located in Moorhead Community Resource Center has greatly benefited us. We have more of a family life now, so, and we really appreciate the support that they give to us.

Kathryn: So again, if you know somebody who has a house fire or somebody who’s lost their job or things of that nature, Moorhead is basically open 8:00 to 4:00 every day and then 8 to 8 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Kathryn: Our biggest supporters are Gleaners, Midwest Food Bank, MSD of Warren Township, obviously, one, they let us utilize their facility for free, which is wonderful. We can utilize their maintenance for free.

Kathryn: So, if something breaks down, they’ll send somebody out to help us. They advertise for us. So, all the schools advertise community- or Sonny Day, for their families.

Kathryn: And they, you know, they do food drives throughout the year, which is which is wonderful for us too.

Kathryn: And then Audrey’s Place Furniture and Thrift Store, they’re located on 10th St, they are a large supporter. They provide me the, yeah, what is it called, box truck. The box truck that I used to drive down to Midwest Food Bank every month and pick up 8 pallets of food and bring it back.

Kathryn: So, we are very, very appreciative of that support. The Indianapolis East Rotary Club they have, they come out at least twice a year with volunteers and they help, help us manage our pantry and distribute food. And then they have also done some donation and charity work for us as well, so we really appreciate that.

Kathryn: OK, I got an update that says Open In Indiana. So that’s old, it needs to be now, but, uh, so Ryan and his wife Carly, they help us manage our website, which is what we utilize to advertise and, and to, to, to seek volunteers and to accept donations.

Kathryn: So, I will get that fixed as soon as we get off this meeting.

Kathryn: Meijer here on East Washington Street, they’re another big supporter of our food pantry and then the high school Warren Central High School. Every year they do have massive huddle up against poverty food drive for us. And it’s, I mean we get a significant amount of canned foods that lasts us the entire year from that that food drive.

Kathryn: So, then that way with the funds that we have, we can focus on getting produce and the frozen meats and the toiletries through Gleaners and Midwest Food Bank.

Kathryn: And then we do have three consistent individual donors who didn’t want to be named, but they, they provide us a, a fair amount of money every year to help us fill in the blanks when we need to, you know, as you guys all know, when you go the grocery store now, it is not, not that hard to drop 300 bucks if you have a family of four or more. So, it’s, I mean it’s, it’s crazy how much everything has gone up.

Kathryn: Oh, and we are purely funded on donations. There is, like I said, we’re all volunteer based. We’re a nonprofit organization run through the Council PTA, and, yeah, so we survive on donations.

Kathryn: We survive on volunteers, so if you go to our website, we have our six coordinators that do a bulk of the work, but we need the funds to help us, whether it’s for deliveries or it’s just for the two distribution days that we’re open a month.

Kathryn: So, you are more than welcome to go to that website, click on the volunteer button and you can see all our dates that we’re open and you can click a little time slot. We just, Signupgenius, we’ve made it very easy to accept volunteers and we’d love to show you how we work and how it operates and just come out and help.

Kathryn: And it’s a, 2 hours that goes by quick and it’s enjoyable and it’s fun to interact with our patrons and it’s, it just makes you feel good at the end of the day that you’re helping those in need.

Kathryn: We also run on Facebook, so if you are a Facebook guru you can search us out on Sonny Day, Warren Township and we post a lot of things on there, not only just about our pantry. But anything that we can get our hands on, so there are a variety of apps and many, many pantries on in Marion County and here on the east side.

Kathryn: So, we, we share information about each other just like you guys do sharing information and coordinating. So, we want to get the word out because maybe the two days that we’re open, somebody’s busy, but they can maybe go to, you know, another local pantry and get the assistance they need from them.

Kathryn: OK, I can give you guys a couple, couple numbers.

Kathryn: So, we really started tracking the number of people we serve in 2014 when we started our partnership with Gleaners and with Midwest Food Bank.

Kathryn: So, you can see the number continue to rise and then as soon as we hit COVID, I mean the numbers just, they almost well, they basically doubled, if not, so we continue to serve a lot of people.

Kathryn: And then finally I just going to give you guys my e-mail and I can put it in the chat. But uhm, though, since Sonny Day is run through the Council PTA, that is the e-mail address that we use, so it’s [redacted] and we also have a Facebook page Warren Township Council of PTAs. Now Ryan, that is basically my presentation and how do I unshare?

Kathryn: Yeah, you might have to unshare me. There we go. Anyway, but I’m here to answer any of your questions that you might have.

Kathryn: I, I mean, I don’t know if any of you live on the east side, but I mean, I would gladly just give you a tour if you’d be interested.

Kathryn: We need the different rooms ’cause we have, uh, I guess I didn’t go through it, we have three ways for families to pick up food, so no, but made us rethink and change the way things were set up, so during the shutdown, fully shutdown portion of COVID, we did a grab and go, so we filled up an entire wagon with food and toiletries and we would wheel it out to everybody so far, so the patrons didn’t get out of their car, we just put it in there or if they were getting off the bus, we handed them the bag.

Kathryn: They could take them back on the bus with the bags, but we kept that process.

Kathryn: You can come in now and still just grab a wagon, take it out to your car, load it up, bring us the wagon back.

Kathryn: Do a grab and go fast food service or you can come in and you can grocery shop for yourself.

Kathryn: So, we have a room dedicated set up like a grocery store, and you can go around and pick whichever kind of food you want. So, maybe you don’t want the green beans that we picked for you in the grab and go wagon, but you’d rather have corn.

Kathryn: So, this gives you the opportunity to pick what works for your family. And then we started something new. What should we call the pre-order, our line for the grocery store started to get really long and then we wanted to make things efficient and we still wanted people to be able to spread out and be comfortable standing inside a building in line here during the pandemic, so we post on social media a pre-order link and the 1st 20 to 25 people that sign up they can go into a Google link and check the boxes of what they want, and they drive around to a specific side of our building and they can pick up their grab and go items that way.

Kathryn: So, are there pre-ordered items that way.

Kathryn: So, we’ve made it almost like a grocery store. If you want to, yeah, you could do a Click list or whatever it might be called depending on the grocery store you guys go to, but it seems to have worked out really well.

Kathryn: And then we have a clothing room that you walk in and you’ve got the racks of clothes and it’s all organized by gender and age. So, it’s, it’s very easy to move around that room and we, it’s unlimited, basically, you can fill up, you know, as many bags.:

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