A local organization that provides basic human needs for those that are homeless is bracing for the frigid months ahead. “In Toledo, we have extreme weather in the middle of winter and the middle of summer,” said Dan Rogers, President and CEO of the Cherry Street Mission.
It’s never easy to be in need of food and shelter, the need for those necessities are heightened during periods of the most extreme weather. Since 1947, the Cherry Street Mission has worked to provide basic needs to those who desire assistance.
As Northwest Ohio enters the coldest months of the year, Rogers’ organization works to prepare for seasonal demands. “We change our protocols, we change the way we conduct business, we change the delivery system itself, because the conditions are exceptional and extreme. We are highly responsive to that.”
Eliminating negative effects of poverty
But, Rogers points out, providing aid is not the only role of the Cherry Street Mission. More than simply giving food and shelter, the Mission aims to eliminate the root causes of homelessness. “(We are) an organization that is focused on the development of human beings,” Rogers said. “Our focus is on reversing the negative effect of poverty, and the elimination of homelessness. We believe development is the best (use of our) efforts, and we provide relief as necessary.”
Rogers estimates that over the course of any given day, over 400 individuals– men, women and children– access the Mission. Over 70 years of service, that amounts to tens of thousands of individuals whose lives have been impacted by Cherry Street’s work. Rogers, who has worked with the Mission for over 18 years, said that he views satisfying the individual’s immediate needs as just a first step in helping them.
Meeting needs, exploring causes
“Many men and women first come to us for relief—food, clothing or shelter—but they quickly receive far more from us. We realize that if we can meet your need for relief, in the very next minute we can help you start discovering the reasons why you need relief to begin with.” Help from private citizens is vital to continuing the Mission’s work, Rogers stresses, especially given its status as a privately funded organization. Over 3,000 individuals volunteer with the Mission annually.
“We don’t receive any public dollars, which means that for 72 years we are literally standing on the corners we’re standing on because the community, through its donations, has said that we should.”
Ways to help
Those looking to offer help can make a monetary donation, or a donation of food products directly to the Mission’s delivery door on 16th Street, open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 3 pm. But the most significant impact one can make, Rogers said, is simply by volunteering and talking to the individuals the Mission aims to help. “The number one job we have is to rebuild that relationship infrastructure,” Rogers said.
“So to come in and have a meal with us, and sit with us and have a conversation with someone who hasn’t had a conversation in days, or weeks—who doesn’t know where their mom is, doesn’t know where their kids are, are divorced of hope, with respect to every relationship—those early days of being a surrogate friend, or a surrogate family member, is absolutely critical to their recovery.”
For more information on the Cherry St. Mission and on how to donate, visit cherrystreetmission.org, or call 419-242-5141.