Denver, CO, August 25, 2010 – Times are hard in the southwest section of Denver as residents face multiple issues impacting the health and well being of their communities. The region has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state and is challenged by crime, teen pregnancy and hunger among its senior residents. The recession has increased the burden as unemployment has risen even higher and a wave of home foreclosures has added to the number of residents seeking help with basic needs.
The SouthWest Improvement Council (SWIC) has been serving the people of southwest Denver since 1987. Founded by the residents of Westwood and SWIC Executive Director Jan Marie Belle, their mission is to empower people and improve the quality of lives. Operating out of the Southwest Denver Community Center, SWIC directly supports the community by creating solutions for affordable, quality housing; youth education, recreation and employment; elder wellness, health promotion and minority outreach programs.
Through this new partnership, ARAMARK employees will help SWIC meet the increasing needs of residents in southwest Denver. Employee volunteers will use their professional expertise to help prepare and connect residents to the workforce, teach families how to live healthier lifestyles and fulfill basic human needs on an ongoing basis.
“The recession has made our services more necessary than ever. The area’s high unemployment rate challenges us to provide increased levels of emergency assistance to fulfill basic needs like food, clothing and housing,” said Jan Marie Belle, executive director of SWIC. “Even as we deal with our own budget constraints there is a steady stream of people in need coming though our doors. We do our best to help them with the resources available, but it’s tough. Relationships like this with ARAMARK, really help close some critical gaps.”
While the recession has created increased demand for all of SWIC’s services, the organization’s weekly Food Box distribution program has become an absolute necessity for many southwest area families. Just two years ago SWIC distributed approximately 25 food boxes every two weeks. Today, it distributes 150-200 boxes every Friday. Each box contains $20-30 worth of perishable and non-perishable food items available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
On Tuesday, August 31, more than 100 ARAMARK employees will dedicate their time, energy, and talents to enhancing the physical environment of Southwest Denver Community Center. Volunteers will focus on the revitalization of the Center’s food pantry, which has demonstrated increased need and is a critical part of their program serving hundreds of families each week. “Our food pantry is at capacity,” said Belle. “The improvements ARAMARK will make to our facilities will help SWIC staff and volunteers to more efficiently serve our many families in need.”
“We recognize that community centers are working harder than ever to fulfill the most basic needs of families,” said Carl Mittleman, regional vice president, ARAMARK Sports & Entertainment and local ARAMARK Building Community executive sponsor. “Through our partnership with SWIC, ARAMARK employees will use their expertise to strengthen the organization’s existing programs and increase capacity to ensure those needs get met.”
Throughout the day of service ARAMARK employees will complete 12 enhancement projects that will allow the center’s staff and volunteers to better provide services and support. These include:
- Revitalization of the Food Pantry – Constructing heavy duty shelving to increase organization and storage; repainting walls; installing ceiling tiles and creating food-themed murals. ARAMARK employees are holding a donation drive to collect non-perishable food items to stock the pantry;
- Interior Beautification – Painting bright, inspirational murals and repainting the gymnasium; and
- Creation of Outdoor Gathering Place – Building picnic tables and mural benches with landscaping to create an inspirational space where children and families can spend time together.
The mission of ARAMARK Building Community is to extend the important work of local community partners by supporting their efforts to provide solutions to help families succeed and achieve. This volunteer project and partnership with SWIC is part of a 40-city ARAMARK Building Community tour engaging thousands of employees in the U.S. and around the world in supporting local neighborhood centers and strengthening communities.
About SouthWest Improvement Council
SouthWest Improvement Council (SWIC) is a nonprofit nonsectarian corporation (charity) formed in 1987 by residents of Westwood, an impoverished neighborhood in urban southwest Denver. SWIC’s purpose is to reduce prejudice and discrimination, combat community deterioration, provide assistance with food, clothing and housing; improve levels of educational attainment for adults and children, develop affordable housing, and cooperate with and assist other organizations having similar goals. http://swic-denver.org
About ARAMARK Building Community
ARAMARK Building Community enriches the lives of families in need by supporting local community centers to help people of all generations learn, earn and thrive. ARAMARK recognizes the important role community centers play in addressing the comprehensive needs of individuals and families and is providing a range of resources including grants, volunteers and in-kind contributions. Through ARAMARK Building Community, volunteers will use their expertise to help youth and adults develop critical, employable work skills and connect them to career opportunities; support families with nutrition and wellness education; provide basic needs such as food and clothing; and help identified partners run cleaner, safer and more efficient facilities to enhance and strengthen the Center’s programs on an ongoing basis.
ARAMARK is a leader in professional services, providing award-winning food services, facilities management, and uniform and career apparel to health care institutions, universities and school districts, stadiums and arenas, and businesses around the world. The company is recognized as one of the "World's Most Ethical Companies" by the Ethisphere Institute, as the industry leader in FORTUNE magazine's "World's Most Admired Companies," and as one of America's Largest Private Companies by both FORTUNE and Forbes magazines. ARAMARK seeks to responsibly address issues that matter to its clients, customers, employees and communities by focusing on employee advocacy, environmental stewardship, health and wellness, and community involvement. Headquartered in Philadelphia, ARAMARK has approximately 255,000 employees serving clients in 22 countries. Learn more at www.twitter.com/aramarknews.
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