Anna's House looks to expand and serve even more

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It's 8 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, and Julie Molloy is putting on two large pots to boil.

She's preparing oatmeal — part of  a healthy breakfast for the 20 or so guests she's expecting that morning.

She does this three times a week during the cold-weather months and five days a week during the summer.
"It's a tough time right now for so many families," said Molloy, director of The Lord's Pantry at Anna's House. It's  a neighborhood food pantry and community center on the city's near-west side.

"If we can help with food and some meals and help to educate and empower (families) to be more self-sufficient, that's our goal," Molloy said.

It's a goal that started with a simple mission and a visit by a Baptist minister. 

In the late 1980's, 87-year-old Lucious Newsom visited Indianapolis from his home in Chattanooga, Tenn. to help with the annual Mozel Sanders Thanksgiving Dinner.

Discovering a need to help the hungry all year long, he later made a home in Indy. From the back of a van, he would hand out donated bread and food to anyone who needed it. 

Newsom spread the word about his mission to local churches and it eventually grew with volunteers

His operation moved into a permanent home at 303 N. Elder Ave. in 2006.

It was during that time that Julie Molloy's daughter, Anna, was at Riley Hospital. The elementary-aged girl suffered a myriad of medical issues that left her on a ventilator and in a wheelchair.

Despite her challenges, she joined her mother as a volunteer with Newsom. 

Touched by her dedication, Newsom named the facility after her, and it became The Lord's Pantry at Anna's House.

Anna Molloy passed away in July 2008. Newsom followed her in death only 18 days later.

Their bond and their work is an inspiration to Julie Molloy, who took over as director of the facility.

She saw it as a means of comfort in her time of grief.

"As rough as it may be, there is always someone else who has it tougher," Molloy said.

More and more people have it tougher. According to Feeding Indiana's Hungry, a average of one in seven Hoosier households struggle with hunger.

And, the numbers are rising.

Molloy said the rise is apparent at Anna's House. She's noticed an increase in the number of people she serves.

"Every day we get more and more phone calls from people all across the city needing assistance," Molloy said. "And we're not talking families that aren't doing anything. We're talking about the working poor. They're struggling to make ends meet."

That is why Molloy has a new mission — to build a bigger, better facility to serve them.

Plans are underway for a new 19,000-square-foot, multi-service center. It's a stark improvement from the current 3,000-square-foot home.

Molloy hopes the bigger size will allow them to offer more services and help more families.

"We're doing everything from this one little spot," she said of the current property. "The new building will have a designated food pantry area, designated dining hall, designated classrooms."

The land for the new community center — just two blocks away from the current facility — has already been donated, and so has the concrete labor, the exterior walls, the kitchen design and some equipment.

But, more is still needed.

 "We just launched our capital campaign," Molloy said.

She also hopes the launch of a new cookbook will add to the donations. 

Molloy believes the project would make her daughter, and the founder of The Lord's Pantry proud.

''I'd hope they would think I'm doing a good job," she said.

Right now, that job is making sure the sausage doesn't burn. Her guests have arrived for breakfast.

Click here to learn more about Anna's House.