Interchurch Social Services in Mount Vernon is run by native Joy Harris, who attended Mount Vernon High School and studied at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio before beginning a career in social services. Mrs. Harris worked for Big Brothers & Big Sisters in Mount Vernon, where she witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of poverty on a small community and the importance of civic engagement. She found an opportunity to have a greater impact on Knox County through a directorial role at the Interchurch Social Services food pantry. From this position, she has been able to see the significance of her work along with the growth of the families that utilize the food pantry and other services offered. Joy’s loyalty and connection to Knox County has inspired her to be a leader for her community in the fight against poverty.
The food pantry serves the Knox County community with local assistance: Interchurch Social Services receives financial backing through United Way, as well as food donations from corporations in the area including Walmart and Kroger, and support from local farmers and the agricultural sector of Knox County. The collaboration between different industries represents the importance of partnership in addressing poverty in a rural community.
Our presence in the community has sensitized our friends, neighbors, coworkers and employers to the issues of poverty and provides a forum for their response.
Interchurch is often referred to as the heart of Knox County; it is the foundation for the majority of outreach programs that supports its community members; it offers a space for individuals experiencing hardship to access the resources necessary to lead healthy lives as well as provide a time of fellowship and guidance. Interchurch Social Services has served to raise awareness about the prevalence of poverty in Knox County and the importance of supporting one another: a pillar of Christian––and rural life––values. The food pantry has enabled residents to connect with one another through the church, through farming, and through a shared identity: being a member of the Knox County community.
Photo: Director Joy Harris.
Written by Caroline Doherty (’18) and Alex Laub (’18)