On Friday, January 6, one of the Bronx’s most successful non profits celebrated one of the biggest days in its history.
Part Of The Solution (POTS) at Webster Avenue and East 198th Street cut the ribbon on its new facility, marked its 30th birthday and announced Chris Beam as its new president and program director.
Throughout most of its existence, POTS has served mainly a soup kitchen, specializing in providing food to needy neighborhood residents. But through thanks to the new multi-million dollar expansion to a fully-renovated three-story building, services will soon include a medical and dental clinic, private showers, a barbershop, a 60-seat dining room and a self-selecting food pantry, similar to a grocery store. POTS staffers will also enjoy new, bigger offices.
“It’s a beautiful building,” POTS board chairman Donn Dolce said. “As far as I’m concerned, this is going to be a model for the rest of the country. This is more than a soup kitchen.”
In an average year, POTS serves over 12,000 low income people, distributes over 400,000 meals and prevents eviction for over 150 households through legal representation.
“It’s about dignity,” POTS volunteer and development coordinator Kimberly Repinski said about the expansion. “And we have more space, so more people can come in.”
City Council speaker Christine Quinn volunteered at POTS as a college student in the 1980s, and attended the ribbon cutting celebration.
“To have a building this nice sends a message that just because you hit a bad spot in the road, you will still be served with dignity,” she said.
Bronx elected officials also partook in the ceremony.
Councilman Joel Rivera said having a facility such as POTS in the Bronx reflected well on both the borough and the city.
“They say you can judge a society by how it takes care of its weak and needy,” Councilman Rivera said. “This shows people care, whether it’s providing food, a haircut or legal care.”
And Senator Gustavo Rivera said the new facility would give POTS a “new lease on life. They have been providing great services, and they will be here for another 30 years.”
Senator Rivera also pointed out that the longevity of POTS employees, board members and volunteers spoke to its effectiveness as an organization.
New president Beam echoed those sentiments.
“Whatever I say really doesn’t account for the devotion and dedication of everyone here,” he said. “POTS has become a game changer. It changes the direction of where you’re going.”
Bill Weisbrod can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394. Follow him on Twitter @bweisbrod