The history of AGAPE and its service to the Columbia and Montour county residents began in July 2006 when Mission Central’s vision of hub expansion throughout the communities was first suggested at the Annual Conference of the Central Susquehanna United Methodist Church. The idea for a Mission Central Hub in the Bloomsburg area expanded to include addressing the needs of our local communities. The vision to “fill in the gaps so no one falls through the cracks” was created and in December 2008, the first AGAPE Board of Directors was appointed.
AGAPE opened its doors to the community in July 2009, with the receipt and distribution of used furniture and linens, and providingh informational assistance and referral services. AGAPE assisted 349 families in its first five months (July to December 2009). In its first full year, AGAPE’s eight programs provided $53,807.53 in assistance to 1,073 families.
In September 2011, Tropical Storm Lee hit Northeast Pennsylvania, leading to the most damaging flooding in this area in over 100 years. AGAPE was designated the Flood Recovery Center for Columbia County. AGAPE coordinated over 5,000 volunteers to help individuals with clean-up and rebuilding throughout the region, and distributed recovery supplies to communities in six counties in Northeastern Pennsylvania. An estimated $2,000,000 was distributed in flood relief, clean-up, rebuilding and refurnishing assistance.
In 2012 AGAPE continued to serve the community by continued assistance to flood survivors through final distribution of clean-up and rebuilding supplies, and volunteers helping with rebuilding efforts. Between 2012 and 2016 AGAPE returned to its original mission of serving those in need of housing, financial assistance, household goods, and programming to assist them in becoming self-sufficient.
In 2016 we realized we needed more space as our 16,000 square foot building was bulging at the seams. We began a building search. Through our holistic approach to addressing our community’s needs in 2017 we succeeded in serving 92 homeless individuals, providing $69,966 in total financial assistance, distributing 1,348,371.15 lbs of food and serving 8,241 hot meals to our communities.
AGAPE’s programs have expanded since its beginning. We now have programs addressing Women’s Hygiene, Cloth Diapers, Hope and Healing, a very expanded food distribution program DailyBREAD, Happy Tails (pet food and products). We are also the administrator of the Columbia County Community Organizations Active in Disaster (CCCOAD).
Continuing our holistic approach for serving our clients’ needs, in 2018 AGAPE served 87 homeless individuals, provided household goods valued at $452,930.55; provided $98,374,92. in financial assistance; distributed 1,053,844 pounds of food; distributed 23,459 food backpacks for school children; provided 7,091 hot meals; distributed 30,666 pounds of clothing; $25,381.79 in disaster relief; and recorded 34,393 volunteer hours.
Despite the pandemic during 2020-2021,we succeeded in serving 185 homeless individuals, providing $92,075.92 in total financial assistance, distributing 623,567.47 lbs. and serving 2,666 hot meals to our communities. We began distributing women's hygiene products to 914 households. Making sure the whole family was taken care of we were able to provide 2,651 families with pet food to keep the fur babies fed.
After looking around our two counties to meet our expanding needs, in 2021 we finally found a 100,000 square foot building with lots of parking and room for future expansion. But the asking price for the building was $1,750,000. We only had $250,000. An extremely generous donor gave us the additional $1.5 million needed to purchase the building with the condition we raise an additional $1.1 million dollars in three months as a match. By the end of June 2021 we had in excess of $1.1 million raised by a Christian consulting firm that ran a capital campaign for us. That match is now paying for the renovations we have been required to make.. God is so good!
On March 5, 2022 AGAPE, with the help of community volunteers of all ages, moved into its new building though renovations are still in progress. As of the end of July 2022 we have returned to almost fully meeting our mission of helping those in need within our two counties. These accomplishments would not be possible without our dedicated staff of 13, our very generous donors and wonderfully faithful volunteers. Above all, however, we have been blessed beyond measure by our Almighty, loving full of grace and mercy God!
AGAPE 851 RAILROAD STREET BLOOMSBURG, PA 17815