Giving back to the community has long been a way of life for many. This includes helping those in need with food, clothing, housing, and even utility bills to coming up with a unique perspective on how to help families and individuals who are in need of aid. We all know that cleaning and stay hygienic is very important, but did you know that there are people in our community who cannot afford such luxury? Yes, it is a luxury that most of us take for granted. Thankfully, a local solution to this problem exists: the Hygiene Blessings Bank of the Genesee Valley.
The Hygiene Blessings Bank of the Genesee Valley (HBB) is a program that helps local families in need with supplies for which they do not receive assistance from government programs such as SNAP (a federal program to help families in need with food) and HEAP (a federal program to help families in need with utility bills). These programs do not help families with paper products like paper towels and toilet paper, or other household cleaning products and personal hygiene products. That is where HBB steps in. HBB helps local families and individuals in need with household cleanliness and personal hygiene items.
Amanda Dudek, the founder of HBB, said she came across this program when she was on the hunt for a good article story. A hygiene bank, Community Hygiene Bank (CHB), also operates in Brockport. When Dudek wrote an article on them, she realized that this program was something that was needed in her area: Livingston County. After this epiphany, Dudek visited CHB and volunteered at one of its events. She described it as a great experience, and after volunteering for the second time at one of the CHB events, she brought the idea home to the church to which she belongs.
Her church, Grace & Truth Christian Fellowship, was very supportive of the idea, and shortly after, it approved starting a hygiene bank program of its own. This program is entirely staffed by volunteers and funded by donations and sponsorships by individuals and such businesses and organizations as Wegmans, the Livingston County Department of Health, and the Original Red Osier Restaurant in Stafford, NY. HBB was also awarded the Greater Rochester Health Foundation grant which helped them immensely through the pandemic.
The very first event of the local HBB program took place in November of 2019. According to Dudek, the core purpose of this program is “to put the love of Jesus into action; showing people that God loves them.” Another core principle of this program is that anyone in need can benefit from the services of HBB regardless of their income or the town in which they live. HBB also provides additional information about community resources and about other churches that have supported the program, particularly Faith Fellowship which has consistently partnered with Grace & Truth to hold these events.
HBB exists to “meet a need,” said Dudek. It helps local families and individuals in need not to have to worry about how they are going to keep their house, themselves, and their children clean. This worry can affect a person’s will to move forward as well as their physical and mental health. So, the HBB is there to help.
HBB is a young program, and Dudek expressed her hope for its longevity. Two long-term goals for the program include making sure the families in the area have access to the hygiene and cleanliness products “to eliminate this need,” and providing families and individuals with connection or reconnection with faith in God. The latter goal is left to the discretion of the families and individuals who attend HBB events, and no one is at all pressured into doing so. In fact, many from the local community have expressed happiness with and gratitude for the services this program offers.
HBB works on a first come, first served basis, holding an event on the second Saturday of every other month (starting in January) from noon to 2 pm. The families are asked to bring a form of ID containing their address. Then, they are registered. Afterwards, they are shown around several tables of hygiene and cleanliness products by volunteers and select their own necessary items.
The Hygiene Blessings Bank of the Genesee Valley celebrated its two-year anniversary in November, and it will hold its next event on January 8th, 2022. HBB strongly encourages anyone in need to attend and anyone willing to donate what they can.
Article by Elaha Hashmatullah