2020: A Challenging (and Rewarding) Year Like No Other…
2020 was a year like no other, and it confirmed for us that nothing – not even a worldwide pandemic – could hamper Unity Shoppe’s dedication to the people of Santa Barbara, especially those who felt most vulnerable or experienced sudden job loss and needed a place to turn during this crisis.
Led by our fearless founder, Barbara Tellefson, we quickly moved into high gear, consolidating all of our programs and services down to distributing food alone in a way that was safe and would help as many people as possible without losing site of our 100-year-old mission: to offer people choice in what they receive and to do so without compromising their dignity or self-respect.
We quickly secured PPE, kept our essential staff and our Community’s most at-risk members healthy and safe, followed all safety guidelines, and met intense cleanliness standards. By doing so we were able to accommodate residents who could shop at Unity directly and receive free groceries they picked out themselves: farm fresh fruits and vegetables, refrigerated dairy products, poultry and beef, bread and baked goods, and canned and boxed staples too. The need for food has been so critical over this past year that we worked hard to ensure our clients, many of whom were families of 4-5 people, could shop for everything they needed every other week (up from only once per month in pre-Covid times). Hours were extended and front of the line privileges and automatic car loading assistance was offered to anyone who needed it by our essential staff, much like at any other supermarket around town. But not everyone was able to shop in person; for immuno-compromised, disabled or homebound residents from Goleta to Carpinteria, we instituted a highly sought after delivery service of groceries they pre-selected and we delivered right to their door.
For more information about Unity Shoppe, visit www.unityshoppe.org.
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Executive Director: Angela Miller-Bevan
Unity Shoppe is dedicated to providing residents impacted by temporary conditions of poverty, natural disaster or health crisis with resources, including groceries, clothing, and other essentials, that reinforce human dignity and encourage self-sufficiency and independence.
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I Never Thought This Would Happen to Me
I was first introduced to Unity Shoppe when my son was volunteering for community service hours. We volunteered and worked side-by-side and saw first-hand the clients shopping with dignity by choosing items that they needed and then we watched as it appeared that they checked out at the register just like they would do in any other store but at Unity Shoppe, no payment changes hands. One of my favorite programs is Unity’s Seniors Helping Seniors Center. This program provides basic need requests from hospitals, senior centers, and other organizations helping seniors who are homebound or disabled. It’s no wonder why I love Unity’s slogan: DIGNITY. RESPECT. CHOICE.
Taking the Legacy Countywide
Unity Shoppe is counting on the durable success of its annual telethon to continue investing in its programs and services. This includes JobSmart, which supplies low-income people with work clothes, and the Senior Resource Center, in which long-time senior volunteers knit, sew, quilt, paint, woodwork, and assemble clothes and toys to the delight and comfort of Santa Barbara’s vulnerable residents. In 2023, Unity Shoppe also plans to begin serving families in north Santa Barbara County. It’s a move inspired in part by Brad Paisley, who was so taken by Unity Shoppe that he brought the concept to his adopted home in Nashville. “Until now, people from north county have had to travel down to get our services,” says Executive Director Angela Miller-Bevan. “In 2023, we will go to them.”
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