Neighborhood Services Center
Unsure where to turn? The professionals at NSC are here for you. Lean more about what services NSC offers with this conversation with Executive Director, Rachel Lebus.
What does NSC do?
Neighborhood Services Center serves as a lifeline for the most vulnerable in the greater Oxford area. For those who are unsure where else to turn, NSC provides case managers who are experts in the system of social services, and who give expert guidance on the best next step to take. In many cases, the next best step is for that person to access NSC’s food pantry, or to access our financial assistance program to receive help with rent, mortgage, or utility payments, to help them when they are struggling. If their needs extend beyond those services, our case managers know where else they can go for help, and will assist in making a connection between the person needing help, and the agency which can provide that assistance.
Who does NSC help?
Anyone! While we tend to work most with people who are low income, we will provide assistance to anyone in need. For financial assistance our case managers complete a detailed screening, which includes an assessment of income and expenses. If we encounter someone who’s income does not match their expenses we will help them, whether or not they meet any kind of income threshold. The bottom line is, if you or someone you know is in need, don’t let any preconceived notions of who we help stop you from reaching out to us to ask. If we are unable to help for one reason or another, we know who can.
What is the process to get help?
The first step is to call us at 610-932-8557, or to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org This will connect you with our receptionist who will gather some basic information from you and will connect you to make an appointment with one of our case managers. Once you complete that step, your case manager will guide you through the process of what else they will need from you in order to help. Even if you aren’t sure what you need but you know you’re struggling, please call us. We are the experts and can help you figure out what you may need based on your situation.
What are the qualifications for services?
Each program has slightly different qualifications, and can vary depending on the funding source or donor. For example, we will not turn away anyone in need of food, but the food we receive from the Chester County Food Bank is federal and state provided food, and therefore has stipulations for how it can be given. However, we also have food that we purchase and food that is donated that does not have the same stipulations. For financial assistance, we receive some government funding that must be used on households that fall below a certain income threshold, but donations from individuals or other grants do not have the same stipulations. Again, the bottom line is that we can help anyone with any need, and we are the ones who get to worry about all of the details about how to help, and from what funding source, etc. We do absolutely everything we can to never turn anyone in need away.
What is your service area?
For most programs, we generally serve the Oxford and Avon Grove school districts. We work closely in partnership with other agencies who provide similar services, so that if someone from outside of our service area comes to us for help, we can refer them to another agency closer to them. For our food pantry, we will not turn anyone away who is hungry, but if there is another food pantry that is closer to where that person lives, we will recommend to them that they access that food pantry rather than ours, for their own convenience.
What happened to the thrift shop?
For those who have lived in Oxford for a while, you may know that NSC used to operate a thrift shop on 3rd Street. While we felt it was a needed service in our community and certainly found the value in it, we made the difficult decision to close the thrift shop in 2019. Operating a store takes a lot of resources, and we decided that we needed to focus our energy on the services that we provide to those who come through our doors for help.
Can I still donate my used items to NSC?
With the closing of the thrift shop, unfortunately it means that most times we are unable to accept the kinds of donations that we used to, such as household goods and clothing. If you are unsure of where to take those items, feel free to give us a call and we can make a recommendation of another local nonprofit or other organization to take those items to that will still make an impact in our community.
We do, however, always take donations of food and personal care items. We take donations of food items that are not expired, either fresh items or nonperishable items, during our business hours of Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. We also take donations of personal care and household items such as soap and shampoo, laundry detergent and other cleaning supplies, diapers, and paper products such as paper towels and toilet paper. All food and personal care donations must be unopened. If you ever have any questions about whether or not we will accept a donation, please feel free to call our office before you bring it in.
Do you provide any additional services for the holidays?
We recognize that the holidays can cause a financial strain even for those who are doing well financially, and so we offer a couple of seasonal programs to try to alleviate the financial burden for those most vulnerable. We offer a Thanksgiving food basket program where we provide a complete Thanksgiving meal for a family in need. At Christmas time, we provide a Christmas Room program where we provide toys and clothing for children from birth through age 12. Parents come in to “shop” for their children at no cost to them. Each of these programs is run entirely by donation, and we rely on the generosity of the public to be able to provide each of these programs.
How can I help?
In addition to financial donations to run our programs as well as cover the costs of the staff to run them, NSC is also always looking for in-kind donations. For the food pantry, we work in partnership with the Chester County Food Bank who provide a lot of the staple items. However, we end up purchasing a lot of items to add to this and purchase additional staples. When people donate food items, we appreciate when people donate things that they would really enjoy eating themselves, such as your favorite sugary cereals, snack items, lunch meat, or anything else. We will give anything we receive, but we love being able to give things that fall outside of the typical pantry staples. We can also always use volunteers, either to pack food in our food pantry, to help sort and organize toys for our Christmas Room, to pack baskets for Thanksgiving, or other tasks as needed. Anything we receive via donation is one less thing we have to use the money that has been generously given to purchase. Events are one way we are able to raise money. If you enjoy planning events, we could use some help on our Event Committee. Send a message to email@example.com if you are interested in serving on our Event Committee, or if you are interested in volunteering.