Berthoud Weekly Surveyor | Covering all the angles in the Garden Spot

Jinger Tomassi serves community, clients at Berthoud Life Center

By: Shelley Widhalm | The Surveyor | May 20, 2021 | Local News

Berthoud resident Jinger Tomassi likes to personally meet the clients and community members who come through the doors of the Berthoud Life Center.

“I really just enjoy how through the job I do…I have the opportunity to meet with people from all walks of life,” said Tomassi, manager of the Berthoud Life Center, a part of the House of Neighborly Center (HNS) in Loveland. “(I enjoy) developing relationships with people in our community, whether they are in need, volunteering or supporting what we do in some way.”

Tomassi has served as manager of the Berthoud Life Center since Oct. 2017, when it opened at The Outpost at Grace Place, 375 Meadowlark Drive. She works with one other staff member and 13 volunteers.

“I love our community, and so when the opportunity arose for me to help people in our community access vital resources, it was a perfect fit,” Tomassi said.

The life center is one of two operated by HNS—the second is Loveland’s Life Center. HNS began serving Loveland 60 years ago and expanded to Berthoud in 1990, starting out at the First Presbyterian Church. Open one day a week, Berthoud HNS provided clients with emergency and basic need services, such as food, clothing, utility and prescription assistance and gas vouchers, in a hand-up approach to help them overcome situational crisis or ongoing poverty.

“HNS provides critical, stabilizing resources that are accessible to all who call Berthoud home,” Tomassi said. “These resources help to bridge a gap in our own small town for people financially, emotionally and physically. … We all have needs in some form or another, and our life center provides an opportunity for us to pull together to give of our talents and receive for our needs.”

When Berthoud HNS moved to Grace Place, it was able to open an additional day and now is open Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tomassi’s job changed with the relocation.

Originally, Tomassi started out as a volunteer for Loveland’s Life Center’s food pantry in 2014. She joined the staff a year later working as the development coordinator before moving to the Berthoud Life Center. There, she manages daily operations, handles community relations and meets with clients.

Before she does any of that, Tomassi has to set up The Outpost each morning with tables and chairs in a makeshift lobby and a food room for the clients (if they need clothing and household items, they receive a voucher for the boutique at Loveland’s Life Center). She also sets up programming areas, which change with the day, answers questions from anyone visiting the nonprofit, and handles phone calls and emails.

During the days the center isn’t open, Tomassi meets with community members, sharing with them what HNS offers the Berthoud area. She meets with civic clubs, such as the Rotary and Lions clubs, plus businesses in the community that might partner with the life center. The businesses, for example, might have a food drive and need a place to donate what’s collected, or the life center may identify a need and seek the support of businesses to provide the necessary supplies or resources.

“Getting our community connected with those who have something to give and those who have needs and bringing that together is something I feel blessed to be part of,” Tomassi said

Tomassi also is blessed with the skills and abilities she needs to build relationships with others, identify individual and community needs, and connect those in need to the best resources, she said.

“I am able to use my strengths to offer help to families, individuals, the elderly—anyone who needs support through life, whether it’s a crisis or just day-to-day life,” Tomassi said.

Tomassi likes that she can work with clients not only to see them make it day-to-day but thrive.

“It’s building relationships with them to better find out what their needs are,” Tomassi said. “We want to help them with their immediate needs, but also their longer-term goals to help them thrive in the place they’re at.”

Glorie Magrum, executive director of HNS, commends Tomassi for her “deep love for her community.”

“She’s very empathetic for people going through a crisis,” Magrum said. “She’s always digging for tools to help them come out of their situation, and she’s a very good businesswoman, which has brought a lot of excellence to our Berthoud office.”

In the last two years, the Berthoud office doubled the amount of help it gives its clients and last year served more than 2,500 people, helped by community awareness.

The life center is seeking a new location to be able to operate four days a week and serve as a hub of resources, bringing together several nonprofits under one roof. Loveland’s Life Center currently has 21 agencies at its location that provide additional services beyond what HNS can offer. In addition to its basic need services, the Berthoud Life Center offers several programs that are free and open to the community, regardless of income level, including the Parents As Teachers parenting skills and child development program and the HomeWork Helper afterschool program.

“A hub of resources creates easy access, but also accountability,” Tomassi said. “We know who is being served and know that they can access other services they may need by simply walking them down the hall. A life center is also a very cost-effective way for nonprofits to join together and provide services.”

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