Recognizing the need of vulnerable families in the Greater Williamsburg area, Grove Christian Outreach Center became its own nonprofit charitable organization in 2004 with a focus on providing food, clothing and financial assistance to those in need. In the last 20 years, programs have evolved and shifted to meet the changing needs of our community to include:
- Food delivery programs for homebound seniors
- School supply drives so children have what they need to return to school
- Holiday programs to celebrate family traditions.
What started as a single wide trailer in front of one of the mobile home parks in Grove is today a 6,000 square-feet custom built facility that houses all of the outreach center’s programs and services. Since moving into the facility in 2013, Grove Christian has served anywhere between 356 and 444 unique households annually through its pantry program alone with that number projected to be an all-time high in 2023.
In 2022, total 356 unique households served through Pantry a total of 4,461 times and received a total of 16,275 services through various programs.
Facing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Grove Christian Outreach Center reevaluated its services to center more on the overall health of the community by offering more access to healthy foods. Families can now choose items from a Fresh Food room, products that include local produce, dairy items and ready-to-eat meals such as salads, in addition to staples available through the Food Pantry.
Katie Patrick’s passion to ensure families don’t suffer from food insecurity and hunger stems from her own challenging childhood when hunger was not a stranger. As a young mother, she faced financial poverty, unsure at times, of how she was going to put food on her children’s table much less her own. That’s among the reasons Katie wants to educate the Greater Williamsburg community about the resources Grove Christian Outreach Center offers to make a positive impact in the lives of vulnerable families.
Katie started her career as an Executive Assistant to the CEO at the Foodbank of the Virginia Peninsula. She worked in multiple roles throughout her 19 years there, rising to Agency Services Director. “That’s where I learned there are more solutions for families facing hard times,” she says.
As part of the Foodbank’s community outreach efforts, Katie realized that the challenges for many families go beyond food insecurity. “It might be a need for clothing or supplies to get their kids to school or learning how to do a budget or needing transportation to get to a job. We live in a society where everybody is always pointing a finger, but bootstraps don’t fit everybody the same.”
Katie took over as Executive Director of Grove Christian Outreach Center in October 2019 with a determination to meet the holistic needs of families. “I like working for a small organization that has a large impact on the people it serves,” she says. “I love the work we do. When I was a child, if somebody had looked at me and known that I needed a meal and rescuing from some other things, it would have had a major impact in my life.”
Katie serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater Williamsburg Outreach Mission and the Rob Till Community Garden. She is a Trained Volunteer Emergency Responder for the Poquoson Community Emergency Response Team and spent three years as a Director for Poquoson’s Economic Development Authority. Her past experience also includes being part of a statewide committee that defined Healthy Food Pantry programs. She is a graduate of Network Peninsula’s Nonprofit Leadership Program.
Katie is also a recipient of Network Peninsula’s Excellence in Collaboration Award.
Katie and her husband, Shawn, share five adult children and two grandchildren. “We’re proud of all of them for the different life choices they’ve made, and I’m especially proud of my youngest, Allyson, who works full time here at Grove Christian and shares my passion to serve others.”
Katie and Shawn dote on their two Labrador Retrievers, yellow Lab Chowder; and black Lab Porter. They will soon add a chocolate Lab, (likely named Mousse), to the mix. In her downtime, Katie enjoys riding her Harley Davidson, reading, quilting, baking and relaxing anywhere the sun is shining. She may also be seen cycling on local roadways, perhaps training for the next Century Ride or the MS 150.
Business Office Manager
Bethel High School graduate Lucy Gellerman married into the military and lived in Washington, D.C., North Carolina, Georgia and as many as 15 different cities throughout Texas before settling in Yorktown. As a teen, she was active alongside her mother in a Hampton church, where she became particularly invested in helping the homeless. Lucy first met current Grove Christian Outreach Center Executive Director Katie Patrick when both worked at the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank. When Katie transitioned to Grove Christian during the fall of 2019, Lucy followed her and today works as the Business Office Manager at the center. “I’ve never wanted to do anything but serve people and this place fills my heart every day,” she says.
Lucy is a cancer survivor. Doctors discovered cervical cancer right before her 28th birthday when she was 16 weeks pregnant. Against medical advice, Lucy continued the pregnancy and gave birth to her daughter Hope at 30 weeks. Following a radical hysterectomy and radiation, she has been cancer free ever since.
The mother to three daughters, Lucy enjoys reading, hiking and tubing and spending time with her granddaughter. She and her husband, Kevin, also share rescue dog Trooper, a German Shepherd hound mix.
Community Engagement Coordinator
Allyson Whitehead graduated from New Kent High School in 2022 and started at Grove Christian Outreach Center that summer. Her mom is her inspiration and also the executive director of the center, Katie Patrick. “Mom has worked with nonprofits my whole life, but when I started working here, I really found a family with the volunteers and our clients,” Allyson says. She is hands-on with every aspect of the services the center offers. In her spare time, Allyson is often behind the wheel of her Honda Accord, her English yellow Labrador, Chowder, in the passenger seat. The two enjoy the beach together and finding new shows to binge-watch. And yes, Chowder watches TV, too!
Robin Wootton is the inaugural Development Manager at Grove Christian Outreach Center, joining the team in July 2023. The Long Island native spent several years out west, church planting in Montana and assisting another congregation in Utah with her husband, Rob, before they moved to Williamsburg where her parents retired. “I’ve always loved it here, and this position is a good fit for me,” she says.
Robin handles donor development, grant writing and fundraising for the center, which continues to grow and expand its services. She graduated from Queens College in New York with a bachelor’s in English literature and earned a master’s in organizational management from University of Phoenix. Robin also holds a graduate certificate in adult learning and development from Regis College in Denver.
Robin and Rob share four children and a love for their Schnoodle, Bridger, named for the Montana mountain range. The family enjoys the outdoors and camping. Robin is a a published author and enjoys writing, music, and all forms of art.
Thank you to our 2023 Board of Directors
- Stephanie Kalantarians (President)
- Elisabeth Reiss (Vice President)
- Robert Q. Johnson (Secretary/Treasurer)
- Lesley Hamer (Director)
- Joyce Hoggard (Director)
- Amy Witcover-Sandford (Director)
- Eddie Antle (Director)
- Fernando Groene (Director)
- Hilary Mann (Director)
- Katie Patrick (Ex Officio)