We were proud to be involved with the Little Pantries project.
Here's an article shared from Hello Redding, authored by Susan White.
Clark Construction not only believes in excellence when it comes to Design and Build Solutions, they also believe in giving back to the community. When Ross Clark heard about 6th grader Ruby Weiner and her community service project, he knew that he and his company had to get involved.
Ruby and her mom, Patty Labozzo had been dropping off canned goods to the local little food pantry for years. This pantry was set up to protect the privacy of those with food insecurity because they could drive up to the outdoor locations and help themselves to what they needed.
During one of their trips to bring food to the pantry during the early months of the pandemic, Ruby noticed that the shelves were almost bare. She asked her mom if they could come back the next day and add more. The middle schooler was saddened when she saw that the food they had left the day before was already gone.
Ruby is a girl with a huge heart. Her compassion led her to investigate the causes of food insecurity. She was surprised to see that her comfortable community had an upswing in this issue partially because of complications due to the pandemic.
Walk in food pantries were closed even though so many more people are in need. Social distancing protocols make the discrete access to a little pantry ideal.
She learned that in 2021, one in 6 people (more than 50 million people), including one in 4 children (approximately 17 million children) in the United States are experiencing food insecurity.
The Little Food Pantry that she had been contributing to seemed to be working, but Ruby felt that there should be another one locally. As she started to form her plan, her parents urged her to apply for grants to finance the project. She did her own research and applied for the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation Youth Grant. They were impressed by her application and soon awarded her $500 to get started.
Ruby knew that her budget was tight but was determined to make her vision come true. When Patty suggested that she research local carpenters and construction companies, she told her mom that she had already decided on one. The family had been receiving the eye catching and informative mailers from Clark Construction for years and they had made a huge impression on the young girl. She had her heart set on having Clark be her partner on this journey. She sent an email and was surprised to get a positive response. Clark would not only be honored to help, they would not be charging for their services. Because of this generosity, one new Little Pantry soon became five.
Ross Clark took Ruby’s drawings and made design adjustments to convert them to building plans. Ruby decided to have one deluxe pantry with wings to hold items like personal products. The other four are ample for plenty of canned and dry goods and whatever else the community generously donates.
On a sunny spring day, Matthew Popp, Richard Costa, and Mario Varrone got together in a tented workspace behind the Clark Construction offices to start work on the pantries with lumber donated to the project. The pantries were built with the care and professionalism that Clark insists on for all of their projects.
The following week, Ruby and her friends came to help paint the structures. The larger pantry is stained and the smaller are painted red. The insides all have Silver Linings.
Clark topped them with roofing tile... an extra touch to make the pantries look like little homes.
The pantries were installed at accessible locations including Wooster Hollow Diner on Route 7 and Nature’s Temptations in Ridgefield.
The pantry locations are:
- Ridgebury Congregational Church, 605 Ridgebury Rd, Ridgefield
- Jesse Lee Church, 207 Main St, Ridgefield
- Nature's Temptations, 32 Prospect St, Ridgefield
- Wooster Hollow Cafe, 659 Danbury Rd, Ridgefield
- Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield, 41 Governor St, Ridgefield
- More locations to come including Redding
Ruby’s mom, Patty and her dad, Rob Weiner, are so proud that their daughter took the lead on the project. Although they were always available for guidance and transportation, Ruby did research, made calls, sent emails and learned a lot along the way. She is a pint sized forced of nature.
Ross Clark said “We are so proud to be a part of this wonderful community. It's been amazing to see how Ruby inspired everyone to come together for this impactful project.”
State Senator Will Haskell is recognizing her efforts with a Proclamation from the State Capitol.
The Weiner family and Clark Construction would like to give a huge thank you to all the companies and people who participated and donated to the cause.
Materials generously donated by Ring's End, Sodexo USA, Wooster Hollow Cafe's Sunrise Meals, Sherry & Laurence Briody. Locations and maintaining pantries by Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield, CT, Wooster Hollow Cafe, Nature's Temptations, Ridgebury Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, and Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church. Also thank you to Signarama Danbury for the signs which were the finishing touch.