As the world recovers from the pandemic and its lingering economic impact, many families are still finding it difficult to recoup. Recognizing these hardships, one local Hawley, Minn. organization takes the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child,” to new heights to support the basic needs of their community.

The Rural Enrichment And Counseling Headquarters (REACH®, Inc.) supports its community in a monumental way. When it was founded in 1991, REACH was an organization focused solely on providing mental health resources to the local community members in need.

Over the years, as community needs grew and evolved, REACH adapted its resources, services and programs to meet the new needs of the community. Through its established programs, REACH provides robust support for many groups, including seniors, helps community members find employment and combats food insecurity through its food pantries and a dedicated school backpack program, and much more.

“REACH’s main goal is to serve each and every individual in our area, making sure no person is left behind,” says Peggy Chisholm, executive director of REACH. “Over the past few years, we have made it a priority to expand the services we offer to meet the needs of our neighbors.”

For many in the community, one of the greatest needs is hunger and food insecurity. With 67 percent of Hawley residents lacking access to a running vehicle, and the nearest food shelf located more than 20 miles away, REACH serves its community by ensuring residents have regular access to substantial nutrition with its two food pantries, its senior and holiday meal programming, and its backpack program, which provides local children facing food insecurity with supplies to last through each weekend.

But REACH doesn’t just combat food insecurity. The group also works to provide resources wherever needed, from winter gear to school supplies. To date, REACH has provided over 600 individuals in 191 households with support through its programs, dispersed over 37,000 pounds of food, gifted over 200 children with Christmas presents, provided warm winter gear to nearly 200 children and donated school supplies to over 100 students.

With the help of a $25,000 Hometown Pride Grant, provided by the Cenex brand, REACH will make a more significant impact in its neighbor’s lives. The organization plans to amplify its backpack program, a supplemental food initiative that provides food items for children to take home over the weekend when they are out of school and do not have regular access to meals. Having supplied over 60,000 bags to over 200 children, REACH aims to make this program accessible to every child in need within Hawley, Hendrum and Perley, Minn.

“We cannot even begin to express how much REACH has done for our community and how appreciative we are for all of their efforts,” says Sarah Ramsey, office manager of Perley Community Co-op. “For over 20 years they’ve always put people first, and as recipients of the Cenex® Hometown Pride grant, we know they will continue to make Hawley even better for our residents.”

“The Cenex brand takes pride in the opportunity to support its local communities,” says Sarah Haugen, marketing communications director at CHS. “By supporting organizations like REACH, we can continue to highlight the importance of fostering community connection within the towns we serve.”
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