Local center serves up meals and tools for success

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Martin Edmonds visits the Common Ground Community Center.

It’s where he can get a free coffee and meal, but Edmonds says it’s more than that.

“I was thinking it would be just like you come in and you just get a bowl of food and a sandwich and it’s more than that,” said Edmonds. “You network and meet people around the neighborhood.”

The center is located in the Allison Hill section of the city, more specifically the basement of the Unitarion Church of Harrisburg.

It’s run by the nonprofit group, Gather the Spirit for Justice.

“We all need a little pad on the back, we all need a little advice sometimes.” said Jacquie Rucker, program director. “And who couldn’t do with a meal. That’s what we’re all about.”

Rucker says the program’s goal is to connect people to key resources and services.

Help with job applications, learning about government assistance programs or getting a state ID are some examples of the work that’s done.

Basic need items, like toiletries, are also offered at no cost.

“The other thing that is very clear to us that people come here for is to have a safe and welcome place,” said Ann Van Dyke, who has been volunteering at the center since 2012.

Finding more volunteers like Ann has been issue, according to Rucker. Funding the program has been too.

“There are lots of problems on Allison Hill but that’s what make it. Problems all in there. We stir it up, said Rucker “Everybody helps each other. It’s the people’s place. Really and truly.”

To volunteer or donate to Gather the Spirit for Justice, click here.

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