SALEM – Seeing greater need for its services, the Brightside Project in Salem plans to expand this year.
The nonprofit launched its Crisis Relief program last year to meet the needs of children across Columbiana County in response to school closures during the pandemic. The program distributed bags of nonperishable food items and fresh fruit to children, says Lisa Wallace, co-director.
Wallace founded Brightside with her father, Scott Lewis, to serve children who have experienced trauma.
In 2020, outreach efforts increased by 73%, according to Wallace.
The nonprofit distributed more than 2,000 bags of food to children through its drive-thru food giveaway in March through May, she says.
Brightside is at capacity at its 138 S. Broadway Ave. headquarters and is looking for a larger space to house its food pantry for kids. The organization is seeking funding opportunities and buildings in Salem for the expansion, Wallace says. And it looks to launch the Brightside on Wheels initiative to reach communities where transportation issues are a barrier to food access.
Brightside also plans to expand its partnerships with area businesses, organizations and agencies “to ensure they are well equipped to meet whatever social-emotional and physical needs arise among children in the community,” Wallace says.
“2020 proved to be challenging but The Brightside Project’s team was fortunate to be on the front lines, meeting the needs of children to build resiliency and give hope during a dark and scary time,” she says.
The Salem Chamber of Commerce named Brightside its 2020 Nonprofit of the Year.
Grants included $15,000 from the Rite-Aid Foundation, $6,000 from the Wenk Foundation, $15,000 from the Salem Community Foundation and $50,000 from Ohio’s Faith-Based and Community Initiative, Wallace says.