We Care 2017 Newsletter March 13, 2017 at 02:04PM

We Care 2017 Newsletter

WE CARE has been serving the Rhea County area since 1982 and has always endeavored to be open and transparent in everything we do. This past year (2016) has been the most challenging time period in our history. We were informed by the Tennessee Department of Revenue in March that we should have been collecting sales tax on everything we sell at both our Thrift Store and our Food Store with the exception of clothing and clothing related items. WE CARE thought this issue had been addressed and resolved back in the 1980's when we were informed by our State Senator that as long as all of our goods were donated then we didn't have to collect sales tax. Of course now that we know, we have been collecting sales tax since April and this has contributed to a decrease in store sales that has had a huge negative impact on our service programs. In addition, the State required us to provide them with sales data going back over four years after which, we were assessed a liability in excess of $ 300,000. Over a period of several months and with the assistance of State Senator Ken Yager and State Representative Ron Travis we were able to negotiate an offer of compromise for $ 5,000 which was accepted by the Department of Revenue. This money was subsequently donated by our Board of Directors in order to avoid having to pay it out of operating funds. So, gratefully, this issue has now been put behind us.

Then in October, we learned that our Food Pantry program was being suspended from our contract as a partner with the Chattanooga Area Food Bank (CAFB) for a period of at least six months. This notice came as a complete shock since we had just been inspected by the Food Bank two months before and were told that we were in good standing and within compliance of all policies and regulations. What led to the suspension was an allegation that we were selling donated foods. This, in fact, is not true at all. In addition, we were never given the opportunity to respond to this charge. We were simply suspended with no recourse. By way of explanation we just want to make clear that we have never required compensation or payment for food however, we did accept donations. These contributions were accepted and used to offset the cost of obtaining the food from CAFB, transporting back to Dayton and organizing it for distribution. We had a sign that read "The food you receive here is FREE however, your donation helps offset the cost of getting this food to you in this community" and those expenses are considerable. Even with our contributions, we still had to supplement nearly $25,000 to keep this program going. This situation has forced us to reduce our services in our Food Assistance program to providing emergency food assistance only because we do not have the finances to go out and pay either wholesale or retail prices for food. We are continuing to research resources that can help fill the void of not being able to partner with CAFB and are hopeful that a food resource program called King Foods might help in that regard. If you would like to know more about this program, please contact Laura Olmstead at (423) 775-1000 to find out how you can participate.

Both of these developments have put a significant strain on WE CARE as a whole but we are optimistic that better times are ahead. As Dr. Ring said, "we are going to keep working on this and doing our best to service the needs of our community. We just want to do whatever we can to make sure their needs are met and that we are empowering them to eventually be able to help themselves".

Alton Steen
General Manager


We Care Community Services and Thrift Store, Inc

We invite you to visit our friendly neighborhood thrift store located in the Food City shopping plaza. Merchandise is put out daily so you never know what you will find. You can donate your gently used items for resale, which will help fund our community service programs.

Our daily sales are posted and announced in the store for your convenience throughout the day. You can also visit our Facebook page at WE CARE THRIFT CENTER for a look at a few of our top selling items and possibly extra savings.

We have Senior Citizen discount day on Wednesdays for people over the age of sixty-five. It offers 10% off on non-sale or reduced items. If you don't have a card already, please ask for details.

WE CARE is dedicated to serving our community. Please show your support by visiting our store.

Pam Debes
Thrift Store Manager


Safe Haven and Dani's Dream Transitional Shelter

We Care has had a very busy year. Our Safe Haven Light Transitional Shelter for families with children and Dani's Dream Transitional Shelter for Adults have been in full operation and occupied to capacity nearly every single night of the year. We have seen a 97% success rate or our residents moving into permanent stable housing. WOW!! We have been blessed with a grant recently to restock our home with necessary items. We have also been partnering with area Youth Groups and Sunday Schools in our worship centers to help around the house with clean up, restock, etc. We are very pleased and thrilled that we have been able to help our most vulnerable population for so many years. Thanks for your support of this community.

Our annual golf tournament which helps fund these programs, is on April 26th this year, will be at the Dayton Golf and Country Club. If you would like to sponsor a hole or participate in this tournament contact Laura Olmstead at 423-775-1000 for more information.

Laura Olmstead
Director of Food and Housing Programs

Food Programs

One in 5 Americans faces food insecurity. For some Rhea county residents it is too often a reality they must face. We Care is constantly trying to evolve and expand our available services. Even in the face of our own struggles to find food sources.
We have 3 programs we operate at under the food service umbrella.

Our Friendly Budget Market which consists of aftermarket wholesale food, pet food and household items. We purchase a semi-truck of these items approximately every 6 to 8 weeks. We then go to work preparing and pricing these items as low as possible to be a service to our community. Our mission is to make this food available to help families stretch their already minimal dollar to the fullest.

Our Food Pantry which is our emergency food assistance program; where we help qualified Rhea County residents who are in need of emergency food. We have partnered with Jackson Farms and Wooden Farms to provide free produce to residents during the produce season.

We also are partners with King Foods Ministry. King Foods is a faith-based organization offering pre-boxed restaurant quality food packages for 40-60% less than store prices. One of our main family boxes is designed to feed a family of four for about a week or a single person for a month. New menus each month may also include convenience meals, bulk meat specials, kid's boxes and more! No income requirements, order limitations or applications!

We Care Food Programs strive to continually serve our community for many more years to come.

Laura Olmstead
Director of Food and Housing Programs