Food Fight 2017

On April 9th, 2017, four local culinary programs came to Westminster for an epic battle.  All four schools wanted the title of Food Fight Master Chef Champion.  In only the second year, the Food Fight is quickly becoming a fan favorite of many.  “I loved attending the Westminster Food Fight!  It was a great event to see local culinary students show off the skills they’ve been learning, as well as showcase the work that the food pantry does for residents of the Near Eastside.  All the food tasted great and it’s impressive that all ingredients are ones commonly found in the food pantry.  I know the money raised will go far to continue the great work that everyone does at Westminster.  I really enjoy bringing our employees at Clif Bar out to volunteer during pantry hours and seeing the impact that the pantry makes in people’s lives,” said Rebecca Deutsch.

The four local schools involved are Area 31 Career Center at Ben Davis High School, J. Everett Light Career Center at North Central High School, Pike Career & STEM Center, and Second Helpings.  The students and their instructors had to use ingredients commonly found in the Westminster Food Pantry, including chicken breast, Ramen noodles, carrots, spinach and mushrooms.  All food was donated by McFarling Foods and Piazza Produce.

In this “Chopped” style event, guest judges and the audience determined the winner.  Each judge critiqued the food in a variety of categories and the audience bought votes to have a say in who became the Second Annual Food Fight Master Chef.  Each school had two student chefs who prepared their secret recipe for the judges and four student chefs in the back preparing the food for the audience.  The instructors were only allowed to give guidance to the students so this was a true test of their skills and how much they have learned from their teacher.  In the end, there could only be one winner.  Pike Career and STEM Center won the judges’ vote, but in the end a large audience vote helped Second Helpings sneak past to become the winner!  Their chicken pot pie creation was the crowd favorite.

Even though Second Helpings won the battle, Westminster walked away with over $7,500 to go towards making a difference in the lives of our neighborhood.  We couldn’t have done it without all our gracious sponsors.  Executive sponsors included CitiMark, Axis Architecture and Interiors, Inverse-Square, and Clif Bar.  Table sponsors included Shoefly, ClusterTruck, Meyer Najem, Lincoln Square Pancake House, Matt Rueff & Family, Greg Maiers Family, Lancaster Schert Equipment, Main Street, Synthesis INC, Downtown Doggie, Oak Street Health, and Hankey Law Office.  Silent auction sponsors included twoDEEP Brewing, Mallow Run Winery, ComedySportz, City BBQ, Jockamos, Upland Brewery, Center for Performing Arts Carmel, Indianapolis Indians, Indianapolis Zoo, Thunderbird, Indianapolis Children’s Museum, Indianapolis Colts, Tuttle Orchards, Blue Porch Designs, Terry Curran, Batch No. 2 and Zydeco’s.  In-kind donations included Hoosier Popcorn, Broad Ripple Chip Co., Maria Creations, Atlas Restaurant Supply, McFarling Foods, Piazza Produce, Terry Curran and Cash & Carry.

Bob Baird, a food pantry volunteer and new board member said, “It’s a great way to get outsiders into the building to see it first-hand doing what it’s supposed to be doing: feeding people.  I loved the fact that it was family friendly; I enjoyed getting the opportunity to show my kids what a food pantry looks like first-hand.  It’s never too early to get their heads and hearts in the right place.”

Back to School Bash

Westminster’s 3rd Annual Back to School Bash will be July 29th at 11:00 AM.  In previous years, Westminster has given over 100 children the school supplies they need to start the year off prepared and ready to learn!  Supplies have run out ever year before the need has been met and families are turned away.  In 2017, the goal is to serve 250 kids that live within the Westminster neighborhood.  While there are several school supply drives in our city,many of the families that utilize Westminster’s services do not have access to transportation or resources to get to one of these distribution sites.  We need your help to provide these basic school supplies for each child that attends the event! Please see the list below for donations we are currently accepting:

Backpacks                                      Composition notebooks

Yellow #2 pencils                            Pink erasers

Red/Blue/Black ink pens                Markers

Wide & college ruled loose-           Colored pencils

leaf paper                                        24-pack of crayons

Dry erase markers                          Wide & college ruled

Folders                                            spiral notebooks

Index cards                                     Glue sticks

Art supply boxes

Please contact Westminster directly for other ways to get involved with this great event at either 317-632-9785 or!

Faces of Westminster

The Park Tudor Intermediate Photography High School class completed the Faces of Westminster Photography Project with the goal of telling the story of Westminster Neighborhood Services.  Students photographed WNS clients, volunteers, and staff to create a collection of photographs to help document and visualize the community members.  Students learned how to photograph both candid and studio-style portraits by utilizing various lighting techniques as well as how to develop a collection of photographs that illustrate the character or essence of an organization to the broader community in an effort to raise awareness.  One Park Tudor student said, “Although we were strangers, both the staff and clients instantly welcomed us into their community.  Meeting new people and hearing the journey they have taken makes my job as a photographer much more meaningful and worthwhile.  I experienced first-hand how our community comes together.  The Faces of Westminster Project is a great way to express all of the wonderful things they do for all the different community members.”  Clients also enjoyed the project.  Juli and Melvin are both clients in the food pantry.  For Juli, the project was a lot of fun and for Melvin, the project helped him want to have a better understanding of individuals.  Adult education students also participated in the project.  Linda enjoyed interacting with the student photographers, while Michelle was impressed by the display of pictures at the end of the project.  Westminster is glad for the opportunity to work on this unique project with Park Tudor!

WNS Welcomes New Board Members

Adey Adenrele

Adey Adenrele is a rising litigation attorney at Barnes & Thornburg LLP and has been committed to community service his entire life.  As a former eduction and community development Peace Corps volunteer in Cape Verde, West Africa, he has a passion for working at a grassroots level.  He has continued to do so here in Indianapolis through his pro bono practice representing tenants with landlord issues and foreign nationals attempting to obtain refugee status.  It is this background that makes us excited to welcome Adey as a new board member.  We’re excited for his future with Westminster!

Bob Baird

Indiana native Bob Baird is the founder of custom software development company Inverse-Square.  As company President, Bob focuses on client relations, strategic partnerships, and organizational growth.  Believing that trust is the foundation to a successful partnership, Bob ensures his clients are a priority.  This belief in trust has played a pivotal role in the continued success of Inverse-Square. Outside of the office, Bob enjoys spending time with his wife Annie, their two children, and the family’s German shepherd Ruby.

Mary Young

Mary Young, a Marketing Manager at Ivie and Associates, joined the Westminster board in March. She has a strong background in developing unique solutions by applying strategic thinking.  Mary likes the holistic philosophy of programming at WNS.  “I feel that this approach enables WNS to make a true impact on Indianapolis’ Near Eastside.  I recognized the need Westminster was serving and then saw the dedication of the WNS staff.  That inspired me to get involved.  I have skills that I can contribute to the cause and I want to use those to enhance the efforts of WNS.”  When Mary isn’t working, you can find her watching all sports, especially college football.  Most of all, hanging out with her daughters (one in Chicago, one at IU) is her favorite thing to do.  Her dog, Pax, needs lots of attention too!

Volunteer Spotlight: Larry O’Connor

If you’ve ever visited Westminster Neighborhood Services while the food pantry and soup kitchen were open, you were probably greeted by Larry O’Connor when you arrived.  Larry first started volunteering at WNS around five years ago when his wife, Harriet, began working here.  Even after Harriet’s retirement, Larry has stayed heavily involved with volunteering, which we are all thankful for!

Larry is a regular volunteer in the food pantry and soup kitchen, here almost every single day they are open.  You can usually find him greeting clients when they arrive and making sure the intake area is running efficiently although he never hesitates to jump in wherever additional help is needed.  In addition to this, Larry is also part of the Saturday Crew, a group that comes in on the weekend to help out as needed around the two buildings, including making repairs, painting, and mowing the grass.  Lindsey Welch, Pantry Services Director, said, “I truly appreciate Larry’s commitment to Westminster.  He is here every Monday and Thursday during pantry hours.  He even comes in early some days and on days he is not scheduled to do work at both the K-8 Building and Family & Adult Services Building.  Larry is a huge asset to Westminster, which we are very thankful for!”

Larry said, “Volunteering at WNS is a fulfilling experience.  I like getting to know the clients I see each week and hopefully sharing positive changes in their lives.  If you are considering volunteering here, you should definitely give it a try!”

Volunteer groups help fulfill the mission of Westminster

Westminster is so thankful for the groups who chose to volunteer with us throughout 2016! These groups helped us both start and finish projects that might otherwise take much longer to complete. They also provided assistance in the food pantry and soup kitchen. Volunteering is a great way for organizations to build teamwork while helping out a local nonprofit. Here are some of the groups Westminster had the pleasure of hosting this quarter. Check out photos of them in action on the left.

Several groups started off the year right by volunteering at Westminster in January!  Mission Indy hosted a group of high school students from Trader’s Point Academy who volunteered at Westminster for two days. They were a great help reorganizing the warehouse after the craziness of Christmas baskets.  Employees from Lowe’s Corporate Office also volunteered in the food pantry and soup kitchen.  In addition to this, they were also able to donate around twenty shopping carts to be used in the pantry!

Although February was a shorter month, our volunteer groups still got plenty done!  Students from Midwest Academy helped out in the food pantry and soup kitchen on a Senior Shopping Day, which clients and volunteers both enjoyed. Community Health Network and Clif Bar both continued helping in the pantry and unloading vehicles after picking up food donations from different grocery stores around Indianapolis!

In March, students from IUPUI came to our Early Childhood & Youth building to help organize the library, which is now looking much better!  Employees from Cummins came to make job readiness kits.  These kits contain resume paper, planners, bus passes and other useful items for our clients looking for new jobs!  Many of our monthly groups also continued volunteering this quarter.  Park Tudor 4th Graders made care bags for clients and also started being guided shoppers in the pantry!  Volunteers from Noble and Hollis Adams continued with more behind-the-scenes working, helping separate donations and make hygiene kits.

Westminster could not fulfill its mission of assisting and empowering at-risk children and families on Indianapolis’s Near Eastside without the support of volunteers. If you have a large group of people who want to volunteer, please contact Lauren Rollings, Westminster’s Volunteer Coordinator, at or 317-632-9785.