In 1988, the Clinton County Services for the Homeless — “the Shelter” — opened its doors and became the first emergency shelter in a rural Ohio community.
The Clinton County community has faced many challenges in the intervening 26 years, but its support of the Shelter has remained constant. That ongoing support has enabled the Shelter to continue its mission of providing emergency shelter, compassionate care and support to the homeless and underprivileged while remembering each resident is a person of worth.
While our local economy and job opportunities in Clinton County continue to improve, the challenge of finding full time sustainable employment that can support an individual and/or family is challenging for those who have become homeless. Loss of transportation, lack of affordable childcare, separation from a spouse, illness, and injuries are among some of the many hardships that the homeless experience. Those whom the Shelter served not only received a temporary place to stay, but also encouragement and access to the basic tools needed to help them regain their independence and dignity.
The Shelter’s ability to help those in need depends on funding from various sources. The Ohio Development Services Agency Homeless Crisis Response Program (HCRP) emergency shelter grant provides operating funds for the Shelter.
Additionally, the Shelter collaborates with four surrounding counties operating as Region 16 to administer the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program (HPRP) Grant. The goal of HPRP is to prevent individuals and families from experiencing homelessness and, when homelessness does occur, rapidly move them from emergency shelter into permanent housing.
The funding from the grant enabled the Shelter to find homes for 35 people during the last year. Mental Health and Recovery Services of Warren and Clinton Counties provided a 2015 fiscal year grant to the Shelter. This grant allowed the Shelter to provide essential services to those Shelter residents who were in recovery.
In 2015, the Capital Funding to End Homelessness Initiative (CFEHI) grant funded a project to renovate the kitchen at the family/women and children home. Dr. Thomas Matrka and other volunteers worked endless hours to complete the project. The CFEHI grant also allowed the Shelter to purchase bed frames, mattresses and new fencing.
Great community support
While grants from governmental sources provide stability to its work, the Shelter could not operate without the amazing support it receives from the local community. The Wilmington Ministerial Association continues to support the Shelter along with numerous local Churches, local businesses, service organizations and individuals. The Shelter also benefited from community giving through funds awarded by the United Way in 2015.
Hard-working volunteers from the community have also helped the Shelter make a success of various fundraising efforts held throughout the year. The Board of Realtors sponsored the Day of Caring pancake breakfast held each year the last Sunday in February at the Wilmington Friends Meeting. In April 2015, Royal Z Lanes’ employees worked with staff and board members of the Shelter to organize the second annual bowling fundraiser benefitting the Shelter. In August 2015, Gold Star Chili organized a fundraiser, donating a percentage of their sales to benefit the Shelter. The Wilmington AM Rotary Club works tirelessly in organizing and sponsoring the Cardboard City event held annually in September. The event moved to a new location at the Clinton County Court House on Sept. 19, 2015.
The second year of the popular CANstruction competition generated many food items for the Shelter’s food pantry. Additionally, with the new venue, “Hands Together for Homeless” nearly met their goal of forming a human chain of holding hands surrounding the Clinton County Courthouse. The staff and board members of the Shelter, with help from many others, held its soup fundraiser in March and November 2015.
Fundraisers and contributions from this wonderful community made it possible for volunteers, under the leadership of Dr. Thomas Matrka to install a handicap accessible bathroom at the family/women and children house in early summer of 2015.
The Shelter’s nine volunteer board members met monthly in 2015 to oversee operations of the Shelter and volunteer numerous hours each year. In November, board members approved the purchase of property located at 382 Main St. which is adjacent to our 390 Main St.property, the Darleen Myers House. Funding for this purchase was made possible from donations received from local support. The addition will allow the Shelter to expand its services and help numerous individuals and families in our community with essential needs.
The Shelter continued collaboration with the Cincinnati Food Bank in conjunction with the local Walmart store and the Feed America Program in 2015. A former staff member, who is now a dedicated volunteer, and a current board member organized efforts to pick-up the donated food and distribute it to the Shelter as well as other local organizations that help feed those in need. In 2015, 385 Clinton County households benefited from the Shelter’s food pantry with assistance from the Feed America Program and donations from individuals, churches, families and businesses.
Food was also given to Calvary Baptist Church in Blanchester, Trinity Full Gospel Church in Sabina and New Vienna Church of Christ so they could also assist in feeding those in need in Clinton County.
The Shelter employs three full-time and six part-time staff members covering shifts 24 hours seven days a week. In addition, previous and current residents of the Shelter “pay it forward” by sharing their time and talents to volunteer at fundraising events, to help maintain Shelter property, and to lend a hand wherever needed.
In 2015, we provided a home for 219 people, including 34 children. Residents spent 6,986 total nights at the Shelter. During their stay, residents received a total of 34,930 meals and snacks.
Clinton County is a wonderful place to live and work. The Shelter board and staff thank each of you for your continued support. With the help of this remarkable community, the Clinton County Homeless Shelter will continue to work hard to assist those in need of emergency shelter and other essential services.