Wherever you shop this season, you’ll likely hear the song “There’s no place like home for the holidays” which may conjure up happy images of home. But for some, there’s no home this holiday, maybe for the first time ever. Trying to bring hope and joy to that group of people is the year-round work of the City Mission in Findlay. This holiday season, there are many ways your family can help the City Mission in its work with the homeless, by decorating the mission, making cookies, purchasing or wrapping gifts, and more.
The City Mission of Findlay
According to its mission statement, City Mission of Findlay “exists to share the passion of Jesus Christ with the needy and homeless by providing compassionate care through meeting their physical and spiritual needs.” The organization, which has provided shelter for the homeless since 1934, continues to improve the ways it meets the needs of people in our community. Through residential services, meals and education, the Mission’s vision is to end homelessness one person at a time.
City Mission provides three separate housing dorms: one for men, one for women and one for families. Thanks to an expansion that allowed the Mission to significantly increase capacity, the building can now accommodate around 80 people each night. Residents stay anywhere from one week to nine months, depending on their needs. The dorms are very basic and residents are given a “bed in a box” with all of their bedding, towels and linens to use during the length of their stay.
Joy Barger, director of development, explains that the goal of City Mission is to assist residents on their journey from homelessness to independence, which looks different for each individual. “All of our program management is done on a case-by-case basis,” Barger says. “So, when someone checks in as a resident they will be enrolled in what we call our reSTART program; reSTART stands for Skills, Training, Abilities, Relationships and Testimony. We do not provide counseling or addiction treatment services on site, but we set the goals for those areas and we work with different agencies like Century Health and Focus on Friends to get people where they need to be to access those services.”
According to Barger, the most common reasons for homelessness are lack of financial stability, mental health struggles and addiction. “Typically the homeless population here in Findlay are people who have lived one paycheck away from homelessness for years and something happens, such as a car breaking down,” she explains.
Education Services Center
The education services center is located inside of City Mission where it serves as a daytime shelter and warm workspace. By offering classes focused on workforce development and personal enrichment, the mission continues to strive to meet the holistic needs of their clients.
“Going into 2018 we are really going to continue to refine the education center. We will have morning classes that focus on three areas that we have learned really affect hunger, homelessness and financial stability. Those are finances, health and relationships, and adverse childhood experiences. In the afternoon we will have enrichment classes such as Bible studies, Awakening Minds art therapy and hot yoga,” explains Barger.
City Mission serves meals to anyone who has a need. Lunch is served Monday through Saturday and dinner is offered every evening. “Residents eat first and then we have a community meal. Before meal service we do have a required chapel service. It’s a quick 10 to 15 minute class and then the community can come in and eat,” explains Barger.
Food boxes are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays after evening meal and each box is prepared with three to four days’ worth of food for people to take with them.
By the numbers
“By the end of the year, we’re projected to serve 37,000 meals and provide 20,000 beds of lodging over the course of 2017. That represents more than 700 individuals who have been here for food or shelter this year,” says Barger. The City Mission is run by a small staff of 21 people, which includes both full-time and part-time employees. They welcome and depend on many volunteers who have a willing attitude and a heart to serve others.
“We are not government based, so we have no government funding. One hundred percent of our donations come in from the community. We are able to keep our doors open because people write checks, churches write checks and so do businesses. So, it really is amazing. When you financially donate to City Mission it’s impactful immediately. One hundred percent of your donation stays in this building and is used for the services here,” Barger adds.
How to get involved
The holidays provide a great time for families to give to others and serve in their community. City Mission offers opportunities for volunteers of all ages to donate their time, talents and resources. Below are some ways to make a difference and help those in the Findlay community this Christmas (and all year long):
- Make a financial donation to City Mission in someone’s honor or as a gift.
- Get a group of coworkers or friends together and do a product drive. City Mission will drop off “Darrel the Barrel” which can be filled with paper products, non-perishable foods, personal hygiene items and more.
- Serve meals in The City Mission kitchen (must be age 13 or older).
- Donate your talents by teaching an enrichment class. No teaching experience is necessary, just a passion to connect with people.
- Decorate the Mission for Christmas, make table decorations, or bake cookies (a great way to involve the kids!).
- Purchase or wrap gifts for residents who will be staying over the holidays. They will create a wish list a few weeks before Christmas.
- Help organize, shelve and date foods that are received in the donation center.
- Call Wendy Tong to find out what the needs are. If you have a free hour or an idea, she will work with you to find a good fit.
City Mission of Findlay is located at 510 West Main Cross Street in Findlay.
For more information, to volunteer or to make a donation go to findlaymission.org or call (419) 423-9151.