As part of our strategic planning process staff discussed this question. In our vicinity there are a lot of Food Banks and a lot of community dinners. Indeed, every service we offer is also done by others. But in discussion staff members believe that there are unique aspects to our ministry. The major one, perhaps, lies in the word “ministry”. Oasis offers more than a program or a service. We genuinely attempt to offer a bit of a relationship with our community members as well. In addition staff noted the attempts to meet broader needs, give our community member choices, the integration of the various activities we do (i.e., involve community members in our other activities) and we ask community members to participate. One staff person recounted spending 45 minutes with a new client at the Food Bank canvassing what other services she needed (which is no small feat given that we often serve over 100 families a week, most of which come in during the first half-hour).
I suspect that many other organizations try to do this as well. Perhaps we are not entirely unique after all. However, asking this question is reminding us about what we are trying to do and why.