The Kiwanis Club of Montgomery County-Blacksburg presented the Teilmann Youth Services award to Cindy Minnick, manager of Montgomery-Floyd Regional Library’s Meadowbrook Public Library branch, on Oct. 3. Minnick has been the driving force behind Meadowbrook Library’s Backpack Program to address hunger and related needs among the community’s children.
Meadowbrook Library is located in Shawsville, in the eastern section of Montgomery County. Eastern Montgomery Elementary School has the highest percentage of free/reduced lunch in the county. For the 2015-2018 school year, it was 55%. During the school year, EMES provides eligible students a bag of food on Friday to take home for the weekend. This food and/or funding was donated by White Memorial Methodist Church, Kiwanis Club of Montgomery County-Blacksburg and donors. However, during the summer, the children had no access to school lunches or the supplemental food. As a member of the community, the Meadowbrook Library wanted to step in to fill this gap.
Minnick began working with the school principals to try and offer something during the summer months. Working with various community groups, including White Memorial, Kiwanis, Shawsville Lay Ministerial Association, Shawsville Ruritans, Mt. Valley Charitable Foundation, Lafayette United Methodist Church, VFW Post 4920 and private donations, the Meadowbrook Library developed the Backpack Program, a weekly supplemental food program for children during the summer.
Each child receives a bag of food, a healthy snack provided by the Virginia Extension Office and a free craft provided by the Meadowbrook Library. Minnick and her team -- Assistant Branch Manager Janet Wren; Angie Helm from the Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension Office; and volunteers Ruth Heinzelmann, Laura Wren, Dylan Wren and Rylee Wren -- assemble and distribute the food bags, snacks and crafts.
Meadowbrook was able to offer this program to all children regardless of income because of the low income of the area. The food is purchased at the Feeding America warehouse in Salem by the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery County-Blacksburg, and supported by additional individual donations.
MFRL offered this program for eight weeks during the summer. School supplies and underclothes went out with the food backpacks on the final week of summer.
“I love this program,“ said Minnick. “I feel the most important thing is to feed the children and then get them to come to the library. Then we can open the world to them with books and what our community has to offer.”
For some 30 years, Kiwanis Club of Montgomery County-Blacksburg has presented the Gunnar Teilmann Award to an outstanding Montgomery County citizen who has made significant unselfish contributions to the betterment of youth in the area, for “service to God, Country and Community.” Teilmann, a former Kiwanian, was an Army chaplain in World War II and a prisoner of war. After the war, he served as a missionary in Malaysia and in Singapore, and his work with suicide prevention led him to receive special commendation from the government of Singapore. He later served as associate pastor at Blacksburg United Methodist Church. Just days prior to his death, he scribbled a note that read “I am thankful, so thankful to all.”
Submitted by Linda Spivey