Come and See All the Good RAM Offers Buchanan
by Rebecka Hoyt, Editor & Photographer
400 hours a month, 16 hours a week are the amount of hours that the volunteers put in at Redbud Area Ministries also known as RAM. This year marks their 40th anniversary which opened through BAMA (Buchanan Area Ministerial Association) on February 28, 1982 called RAM LOVE as they were a franchise of Love, Inc. RAM is located at 708 North Redbud Trail, Buchanan, MI with business hours Tuesday – Friday 9:00am – 1:00pm. On RAM’s website you will see their mission: “The mission of RAM is to demonstrate the love of Christ by distributing food, clothing, household items and limited financial assistance to those in need within our community.”
Just this week, I sat down with RAM director Jan Nowak Walters and had a great talk. “We do not say the “C” word here meaning client. This puts a label on people, we do not say client as we are all two weeks away from being “they.” We are guest and friend, because that is welcoming and inclusive.”
Of their guests and friends, Jan states, “90% are employed, people on disability, and the underfunded in their elderly years. We do not serve lazy people. They can’t get over the hump – that’s our people.”
How does RAM survive? Support has come from churches, but it has changed. Most of the support that RAM receives comes from personal donations as they recognize what RAM does. During this time of listening to Jan, seven people came in with donations which I had never seen that many before and within two hours! Their building is paid for. 100% of their donations stay RIGHT HERE in your local food pantry. Thanksgiving and Christmas are great times of donations, but January hits and they get less and less. Yes, Jan understands that bills and groceries are on the rise, but she has an obligation to meet the needs at that window. “We’re making it but it’s hard. There are more seekers and less donations coming in. And the more seekers are new people we have never seen before. Their needs are greater for clothes, toiletries as well as help with utilities.”
Jan took me on a tour as they have made some little changes, but it’s always good to see what they have and then realize what they need. Jan hates seeing wood on the shelves and also seeing through shelves. A great need is jelly as they have a ton of Peanut Butter – there are never multiple layers of jelly as she would like to have as much as they have peanut butter. “You can’t have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich if you don’t have the jelly,” stated Jan. They have more dried beans than what they know what to do with. Tuna, cream of mushroom soup and pasta can make a casserole, but when you don’t have a cream of mushroom you can’t make that and that item is out right now. Cream of mushroom, chicken, etc…go a long way! Three cans of meal soups right now, could use some more, so meal soups are great. Canned fruit is good too as well as the single serve fruit cups. Their bread guy comes but she never knows when he’s coming. She would like to have bread on the shelves. Anyone can drive down to Aunt Millies and buy a case of bread. Hotdogs and hamburger meat are given as well as buns that were donated last week. Jeff at Lowery’s Meat Market gives hamburger – which he is amazing at supporting RAM, and he discounts what they order is a huge blessing to their budget.
Jan also showed me an endcap that contains recipes with items that you might have not thought to put together like Black Bean & Corn Quinoa, Ham & Split Pea Soup, Spicy Cheesy Refried Beans, Chicken Sweet Potato Skillet! The possibilities are endless. The cereal choices are not many either. Currently there is: the boring kind like Tasty-o’s and bran flakes. How many kids will eat bran flakes and fruit for breakfast? Some will, but not many. Donate the store brand of Captain Crunch, Lucky Charms and take advantage of store sales when they have BOGO’s!
While you are grocery shopping at Harding’s in Buchanan, you can give back to RAM as you select Redbud Area Ministries as your charity for Harding’s to give a percentage of your grocery bill to RAM. Just tell the cashier that you would like to sign-up for that. Every little bit helps. For more information you can call RAM or view on Harding’s website about their community rewards.
Not only do they have food, they also have clothes and accessories like belts, ties, etc… Everything is labeled and sorted by color which helps when you are looking for a certain color. One thing that they always offer is a “Prayer Pot” where you can put in a prayer request by the front window and everyday they pray. Prayer works! You will also find books are available as well as a job board if you or someone you know who is looking for a job.
One of Jan’s wishes is for the “Nicest Place in America” citizens and those communities surrounding Buchanan: to come in and see what RAM is like. Head on into RAM and get a tour even if you don’t have a donation or need help. If you’re driving by and it’s during their business hours, stop in! I have been on tours here before with Girl Scouts and once you step inside for the first time, you are a changed person. Even after our talk on my way back home, I realized that I learned even more and what my family can help them with. What better feeling to give to RAM when it’s RIGHT HERE IN OUR TOWN! Director Jan Nowak Walters ends with “We are not just feeding people, we are changing lives.”
About Redbud Area Ministries: RAM is an interdenominational and interracial ministry center started to organize the churches in the Buchanan and Galien School Districts to respond to individual and family needs.