ASHTABULA — Monday was a day of hope for people experiencing homelessness in the city.
G.O. Community Development Corporation (CDC) donated 50 tents, 50 mummy sleeping bags, mats and blankets to be distributed at various locations where homeless people reside, such as parks and in the Ashtabula Gulf.
Ashtabula residents Ricky Turner and Robert Jewell accepted the donation from G.O. CDC President, Drew Thomas and G.O. CDC Director, Frances Norman.
“This should keep them warm in the winter; it’s not a permanent fix but it will help,” Thomas said. “The homeless come to us for their needs. It’s putting the community’s donations back into the community.”
The Geneva United Methodist Church women made the mats out of plastic bags to place under the sleeping bags for extra insulation and comfort, Norman said.
On extremely cold days, G.O. CDC opens its gymnasium, Thomas said.
“We are committed to providing food, clothing, household items and other assistance to people in the city of Ashtabula and throughout Ashtabula County,” Norman said.
Turner said he and Jewell will distribute the donations to the homeless camps in the area.
“There are five major camps in Ashtabula, from Bridge Street to behind the Circle K on Main Avenue,” he said. “A new camp just set up behind Giant Eagle in Saybrook.”
Turner, who feeds the people in the parks every morning, hopes to eventually open a sleeping center for the homeless.
“We have parents and kids living down in the gulf,” he said. “I like these tents and sleeping bags because they are lightweight and they can carry them with them throughout the day.”
Turner said the homeless hang out in the city’s downtown parks because they have appointments at Signature Health and Catholic Charities, and they can use the WiFi and bathrooms at the library.
The city’s homeless situation is nothing new to city officials.
In August, Ashtabula City Council heard nearly two hours of public testimony from more than a dozen people who spoke about petty crime, public urination, criminal damage, litter and other problems they’ve encountered in Cornelius (the former North Park) and South parks. They said the homeless situation is negatively affecting the downtown community.
A few weeks later, council members held a work session to come up with ideas to solve the problem of people camping out in the city parks. They heard from five social service agencies and discovered there’s a lot of help available in the county, if people would just take advantage of it.
It’s that time of year again and as the summer winds down and Ohio families start preparing for an exciting new school year, the team at G.O. Community Development Corporation along with our friends at Paramount Advantage and Z107.9 have DOUBLED OUR EFFORTS to provide children with the tools they need to succeed. On August 10th, 2019, @ 12pm we will be giving away backpacks filled with essential school supplies (while supplies last).
Many children across Ohio look forward to back-to-school shopping, where they can pick out fun and colorful supplies like folders, pencils, crayons, and even a new backpack—to start the new year fresh. Unfortunately, this can put a serious strain on many families and teachers across Ohio.
Along with a generous contribution by Paramount Advantage and Z107.9, who funded the backpacks and supplies, the staff of G.O. CDC mean to fill the gap and serve those families in need and make sure everyone starts the 2019-2020 school on the right foot.
One in every five school-age child lives in poverty, making it difficult for parents to afford these supplies. When you factor in that teachers themselves spend, on average, $578 of their own salary to fund school supplies for their classrooms each year.
ASHTABULA — The lives of hundreds of people are enriched each week thanks to the efforts of a sturdy group of volunteers that staff G.O. Community Development Corporation on Station Avenue in Ashtabula.
Donations and grants funds the programs ranging from meals for the needy, recreation for youth and free shoes and clothes for those down on their luck, said G.O. CDC Board President Drew Thomas.
“We get probably 100 people that come every day,” Thomas said.
He said meals are fed daily Monday to Friday and a variety of educational and recreational programs occur throughout a month.
A small group of volunteers cook and serve meals and provide clothes and shoes for those in need.
In the summer computer classes are held to educate area youth, said Frances Norman, a volunteer, who also opens the shoe, clothing and toiletries program several days a week.
“We are always looking for people to volunteer,” Thomas said.
He said more information or ways to donate can be found at the organization’s website at go-cdc.org.
ASHTABULA — John Salters called 10 children to the front of the GO Community Development Corp. gymnasium and the number quickly doubled.
Salters, founder of G.O. Ministries which has grown into the new title, fired up the children by singing a loud rendition of “Jingle Bells” on Saturday afternoon at the organization’s headquarters on Station Avenue.
“I love Jesus, yes I do, I love Jesus how about you,” quickly echoed through the recently renovated gymnasium. Salters also got the parents and other children into the act by responding to the chant.
An estimated 400 children attended the event and received Christmas gifts, said GOCDC President Drew Thomas. He said a total of 600 people were expected for the party which was centered in the gymnasium, but also included the cafeteria where people were fed to start off the 22nd edition of the event.
“Each child will get at least three presents,” Thomas said of the gifts that were donated or purchased by the organization.
“We bought a lot of the presents. Good quality presents,” Thomas said of the Tonka trucks, dolls and Legos the children were able to take home.
The families were served in the cafeteria and moved into the gymnasium that was decorated for the Christmas party and freshly renovated with new LED lights thanks to the efforts of the Herzog Family Foundation. Thomas said a plaque was presented during the party to commemorate the group’s efforts.
Thomas said Cristal employees repainted many of the rooms and prepared one for a new purpose and the Ashtabula Foundation provided funds for a new oven.
The organization is active throughout the year feeding families and providing opportunities for recreation and education. “We’ve served over 13,000 meals at our soup kitchen this year,” Thomas said.
Thomas said the organization has also brought Birthcare into the building to distribute baby supplies for young families in need. “We are trying to get as many organizations to join us at the building,” he said.
A multiple-piece band led the music keeping hands clapping and toes tapping throughout the gymnasium.
“This is our third year coming. The children enjoy all the festivities,” said Gina Withrow of Conneaut.
Nikki Dondrea, of Ashtabula, said the party was her family’s first, but probably not the last. “They cater to the children,” she said.