A new nonprofit has created a network of local churches to provide supplies to those in need.
CityServe, which began as a Canyon Hills Assembly of God project, recently held a press conference to inaugurate its 165,000 square foot City Center building that serves as its warehouse.
Since the nonprofit’s launch in 2017, CityServe has distributed $ 10.8 million in proceeds to churches and other organizations across the state.
The organization has spread to five other cities in the state, including San Diego and Fresno.
In Bakersfield, around 50 churches and 30 organizations such as the Kern County Public Health Department have connected to CityServe.
Affiliate groups submit orders to the association, then pick up pallets of food and other supplies, such as diapers, to distribute in the neighborhoods they serve.
CityServe emphasizes relationships, encouraging churches and other agencies to know the people they are helping.
“It’s a helping hand and not just a handout,” said Robin Robinson, director of community development and church engagement for CityServe. “It’s not a ‘take something and let it go’ situation. More people in the churches will step in, and they will form a relationship with the person they are helping.
CityServe receives donations from individuals, as well as excess supplies and charities from companies such as Costco, and stores the items in their warehouse on F Street.
Volunteers work at the warehouse to store food. Churches then bring the produce – which can range from adult diapers to granola bars – back to their own neighborhoods.
Robinson said churches collect supplies once or twice a month, depending on their size.
At Friday’s press conference, Dignity Health provided CityServe with $ 25,000 for transportation costs.
Bakersfield leaders see the nonprofit as a new force for good in Bakersfield.
“This collaborative initiative positions Bakersfield as a prototype city for community transformation. CityServe’s innovative model connects the resources of national retailers and the efforts of local congregations across the city, ”said Mayor Karen Goh. “It connects the broken and the most vulnerable to resources and relationships through neighborhood churches.”
The idea for the nonprofit organization began when church leaders realized that missionary work was prevalent around the world, but not as prevalent in the city’s own communities.
“There are broken people in our neighborhoods with great needs and very few resources. Meanwhile, the overproduction of material goods in our country puts the environment and landfills at risk, ”CityServe Executive Director Karl Hargestam said in a statement. “CityServe connects these resources to those most in need instead of wasting them and our environment.”
The organization hopes to connect churches across the country, but first plans to hone its model in Bakersfield.
You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415 or [email protected] You can also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.