Back in February 2009, a proposal was made by a group of concerned local citizens to create a community outreach facility in an empty building in the Town of Colden. Upon receiving the necessary approvals, the group of tireless volunteers quickly went to work to raise funds and create interest in their project. By Oct. 27 of that same year, the facility was ready, and the program’s first member arrived five minutes before the doors opened at the new Bread of Life Outreach (BOLO) Center.
Over the next decade, the nonprofit organization has continued its amazing growth by making constant improvements, expanding their volunteer base, and attracting an ever-growing pool of stakeholders who happily offer assistance of every kind.
“Each year, more local churches and civic organizations have committed to this valuable community outreach center,” said Executive Director Pat Thoman. “We hope for opportunities for future growth in services that we can render to the local community.”
Among the many services currently offered are a food pantry, farmers’ market and thrift shop.
The BOLO Food Pantry is a member of FeedMore WNY (formerly the Food Bank of WNY). In order to qualify for the food pantry, participants must meet income eligibility guidelines. The pantry is open from 3 to 6 p.m. Thursdays and 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays. Additionally, The Mobile Food Pantry, sponsored by FeedMore WNY in partnership with Bread of Life Outreach, delivers perishable food products on the fourth Thursday of every month from 3 to 5 p.m. The Mobile Food Pantry is open to all, with no income eligibility requirement, although shoppers are required to show a photo ID and encouraged to bring their own bags.
The Colden Community Farmers’ Market, located at 8745 Supervisor Ave. in the parking lot of the Outreach Center, is open from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, from mid-May through September. Supporting local farmers and businesses, vendors at the market include Tioga Valley Farm, Color by Nature, The Little Darling Shop, Kist Maple Products, Nubian Way Farm, NeverRest Farm, Lilies of the Fields, Sweet Flag Herbs, Hemlock House Artistry, Leary Family Farm, Bittner Orchards, Heritage Organics, Keith’s Shrubs and more.
Gabriel’s Closet Thrift Shop, also operated by BOLO, is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 3 to 6 p.m. Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. All items are consignment quality and are put through a rigorous inspection before being accepted into the store. Donations of gently used clothing, shoes and accessories are accepted during regular store hours or by appointment.
But the story doesn’t end there. In fact, the organization and its dedicated volunteers are busy working on what they call The Cherry Picker, the future home of a spirited and eclectic nonprofit retail store offering a collection of new, old, antique, rustic, vintage and modern home furnishings and décor. The store will be located at 8795 State Road, the former site of The Colden Country Store.
“We like objects with history, something old and weathered; pieces with charm,” added Thoman.
And for families of school-age students who need assistance with school supply purchases, BOLO also provides an annual Backpack Program just before the start of the school year.
Volunteers and donations are always needed to help the Bread of Life Outreach Center continue to grow and meet its mission of support and service to others. For more information, please visit breadoflifecolden.org or call 941-3550. You can also follow Bread of Life Outreach Center on Facebook for frequent updates.