Did You Know?

Did You Know?

We take stewardship seriously. And we know that every dol­lar given through the ministry was someone’s sacrifice  and has a purpose to fulfill and a difference to make. With  this in mind, we are very intentional about keeping a lean staff that is primarily focused on the essentials.

74% Ministry Team

26% Operations/Outreach

100% Dedicated to your community

In total, Cherry Street Mission Ministries employs a total of 62 employees, 48 of which are full time.The 74% of our team serving through direct ministry to guests includes seven Ministry Leaders, three Chefs,15 Housing Stabilization Advocates, and 21 Ready For Life Advocates. The other 26% is comprised of those whose ministry is to keep the mission functioning through operations and outreach.


Cherry Street Mission offering job training | Your Day

Cherry Street Mission offering job training | Your Day

The Cherry Street Mission has more to offer than food.


Cherry Street Ministry Sustains Individuals Through Winter

Cherry Street Ministry Sustains Individuals Through Winter

Since its founding in 1947, Cherry Street Mission Ministries has had a singular calling: to provide sustenance for the body and nourishment for the soul. One of the most prominent local charities, Cherry Street’s Downtown Toledo facilities have expanded to include separate housing for males and females, and meals and services at its Life Revitalization Center and Mac Cafe in the former Macomber High School building.

But in addition to the normal increase in guests typical during the winter months, this season they’ve experienced an 800 percent increase in people experiencing homelessness for the first time.

“We’ve had to be exceedingly fluid in providing access to the activities this diverse population needs,” said Ann Ebbert, CEO / president of Cherry Street. Numerous new guests were impacted by the end of the federal moratorium on evictions last fall. Many people who had lost or left jobs during the pandemic were still able to remain in their homes. “But since October we’ve been full,” Ebbert said, because “when the moratorium went away, many of those who were subsistence living fell through the cracks.”

Many of the newer guests experiencing homelessness still have transportation, so Cherry Street is running out of space to park guest cars at its housing centers. In addition, Ebbert said that some guests are working at overnight jobs and will use the shelter and its services during the day, a departure from the organization’s regular schedule.

Solving Challenges
Every guest arriving at Cherry Street goes through the same intake assessment, where needs and issues are identified. “Some need a meal or a bed, while others need more,” said Ebbert. The organization develops its programming to assist guests with solving three problems:

  • Achieving a stable income
  • Securing safe and affordable housing to provides a sense of place, community and safety
  • Building healthy relationships

Admission to the organization’s residential system requires a strict quarantine period until a prospective guest receives a negative COVID-19 test. Once that negative test comes in, the prospective guest can join into all the programs within the facilities. Hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing are also crucial to daily operations.

“We are a faith-based ministry organization, and that is one of the properties we explore with our guests,” Ebbert said. But participation in the spiritual ministry is not mandatory at the organization. “Everyone is on their own journey,” she said.

In addition to medical and mental health care, Cherry Street offers a variety of employment training programs to guests. “We act as a hub for all sorts of human services providers, so our guests can access everything at one stop,” Ebbert said.

Raising Funds and Awareness after 75 years
How are Cherry Street’s programs funded? “People here have gigantic, generous hearts, and our programs are always funded,” said Ebbert. Like many local charities, they rely on personal relationships in the community, along with a strong social media presence, to get the word out about their needs. Cherry Street publishes a wish list of items on its website, and a link to its wish list on Amazon. Typically (and especially during winter months) there is always a need for:

  • Chap Stick (or other lip balms)
  • Waterproof boots
  • Waterproof gloves

Additionally, the Mission celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, kicking off with a February 14 commemoration of National Day of Soup (in a nod to Cherry Street’s start as a soup kitchen). Area restaurants will participate in a soup competition at the Mac Street Café. And a spring-to-fall partnership with area restaurants and bars will offer Cherry Street information through QR codes at tables.

Other events during this anniversary year include a “75 hours of prayer” observance during the week leading to Easter in April, a 75th anniversary party on June 15 and the annual fall fundraiser “Be the Bridge.” Watch their website, Facebook and Instagram pages for details.


Faith and Music Sustained Joseph

Faith and music have sustained Joseph his entire life.

They sustained him throughout a career in the music industry during which he toured the world; they uplifted him when he found that he needed the shelter and nurture of Cherry Street Mission Ministries, and they continue to uphold him as his plans for independence advance.

Joseph is grateful for the services and amenities that Cherry Street has provided for him, for the staff who are always trying to make things better, and for the fact that Cherry Street is doing “everything they need to be doing in the community.”

Talking with Joseph is like breathing fresh air in this confined, COVID-filled world.  He has learned that no matter how much he has in life, he needs to remain humble. He should know. At one time he had it all—houses, cars, money. But he believes that he needed his Cherry Street experience to further his life journey.  Since being here, he has learned more about himself and about the reality that humility is a part of life.

Joseph did not leave music behind when he came to us. His professional experience was as a professional keyboardist, but he also plays guitar, bass guitar, trumpet and sax. He pretty much plays it all. And he has played it here at Cherry Street.

Joseph advises his fellow Cherry Street guests to have the mindset that their experience here is only temporary; they can “get out of there” to independence. He wants donors to know that, besides all the services and resources available here, Cherry Street gives hope.  In these days, hope is a precious commodity.

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Veterans on the move

Veterans on the move

HOUSING FOR HEROES

Cherry Street has developed an incredibly beneficial partnership working with the Department of Veterans Affairs. One of the most powerful things we can do for our guests is connect them with the right resources that already exist to serve them.

During the deepest part of the pandemic, within 30 days SIX veterans were placed in VA housing and were able to move out of Cherry Street into their own homes. A man who had moved out recently stopped by to pick up a care package our team prepared for him. He had a pep in his step and light in his eye that exuded the pride and joy overflowing from his spirit now that he is finally back in a place of his own.

The work done at Cherry Street isn’t just about meeting needs, it’s about restoring dignity and hope to those who have felt misplaced and broken. God is for his children, and it is our joy to work alongside Him as He lifts heads and restores souls. Community collaboration leads to greater impact on the guests and your community.

We are doing more together.

Charlie has a home.
Ryan has a home.
Jerry has a home.


Local agencies applaud county grant to fight homelessness

Local agencies applaud county grant to fight homelessness

For Ann Ebbert, CEO and president of Cherry Street Mission, the coronavirus pandemic has irrevocably changed the way her organization conducts its business. 

“The answer to all things is COVID,” she said.

The downtown Toledo agency is one that has seen calls for its food, clothing, and temporary housing services increase steadily over the last year as cases rise and those in need become even needier.

“All of the different things that have happened in our society recently have impacted those who are on the margins more significantly than others who have more resources,” Ms. Ebbert said. “For those people, there’s a fine line between successfully navigating their lives and falling into a crack.”

To help and prevent homelessness, Lucas County commissioners voted Tuesday to provide an additional $476,000 in housing assistance to support residents who are experiencing unexpected homelessness during the pandemic, the county announced.

The commissioners approved $376,000 in funding for the Housing Problem Solving program, an initiative of the Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board. This program employs strategies, like pulling together the resources of existing aid organizations, in an effort to prevent or shorten the duration of homelessness for residents of Lucas County.

In a separate resolution, the commissioners authorized $100,000 for the Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board to support its emergency hotel/motel service program. This provides up to 30 days of interim housing for the homeless and seeks to address the increased need that has complicated social-distancing inside shelters.

“We want to make sure that people facing homelessness are connected to the resources they need to find housing quickly instead of being placed on waitlists or entering congregate facilities,” Gary Byers, president of the commissioners, said in a statement.

Michael Hart, executive director of the homelessness board, said that with many area shelters full or on wait lists, the county’s announcement is all about addressing a need that has not waned over the last two years.

The Housing Problem Solving program gets at long-term issues, Mr. Hart explained, while the emergency hotel/motel service gets at short-term issues. Still, both initiatives fall under one objective.

“The goal here is to avoid evictions and ensure that people stay in their houses,” he said.

The Housing Problem Solving program is designed to use fewer resources to provide the necessary support for individuals and families to keep them from experiencing chronic homelessness, the county said. Since launching in August, this program, which is based on similar initiatives in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Philadelphia has served nearly 200 people.

To accomplish this goal, Mr. Hart said the county funds will provide for the hiring of navigators to guide citizens in need to the proper resources. This could take the form of legal assistance through the Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, or monetary rental assistance through city or county programs.

“The need is there,” Mr. Hart said of the Housing Problem Solving program. “Your situation should not have to become more severe in order for you to get linked with services, so we can do more upstream to be preventative and divert individuals who are present in the homeless system to those other existing resources that are appropriate to support them.”

To bring the various partners that combat the housing crisis in the area together, the Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board espouses an idea called the “continuum of care,” on their website. This continuum holds that homeless individuals need an approach to care that takes them through the process from being homeless to fully getting back on their feet again.

The Cherry Street Mission is a member of that continuum. Ms. Ebbert said that the money from the county to the Homelessness Board will have a ripple effect on her organization due to its place in the process of care.

“If you think of the continuum as a big umbrella of all of the network of services, or a road map of different services available,” Ms. Ebbert said, “then Cherry Street is on that road map as a provider, along with Family House and Mom’s House.”

Since its founding in 1947, Cherry Street Mission has provided food, clothing, and temporary housing to those in need. Still, Ms. Ebbert feels that it is the “end condition” of people who leave the mission’s care, and the county money can improve how a place like Cherry Street Mission gets people there.

“When the continuum has appropriate opportunities for those who are homeless, or for those who are close to homeless, then definitely Cherry Street is stronger, as is every other shelter and the end user then remains in that condition of homelessness a shorter amount of time.” Ms. Ebbert said. “People can access our opportunities in a more efficient way and therefore, can process from poverty to health.”

In November, 2020, commissioners approved $100,000 in federal CARES Act funds to the homelessness board for unanticipated costs related to the agency’s response to the pandemic.

The agency also received $10,000 in support through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Public Assistance Program in June, 2020, to assist its efforts to provide meals for individuals and families in an isolation and quarantine center.


Dionne Is Hungry For Change

Dionne found her way to Cherry Street after a diagnosis took away the purpose she’d known all her life.

Dionne grew up in a working family and learned to play her part contributing to the family income. From her teenage years through adulthood, she worked multiple jobs to earn her keep and sustain a life she enjoyed.  She liked to work. She enjoyed the hustle and productive hours spent making a life of her own.

After years of dedicated hard work, something began to feel off in her body. Something was not right.

Dionne visited the doctor’s office and was ultimately diagnosed with a crippling disease. Her physician recommended that she stop working and rest. Faced with the decision to continue working to the detriment of her health or be jobless for the first time in nearly 40 years, she thought of her grandkids and submitted her two weeks resignation.

She had a plan and began to adjust to her different life. One mostly spent with quiet days and visits from family. But as plans often do, things soon fell apart. Her safety nets dissolved and she got stuck in lengthy civil rights cases, leaving her awaiting for answers and resolutions. In all this pain, she wandered into situations and habits that she could hardly bring herself to mention. When she showed up to Cherry Street, the hurt in her eyes was deep and dark. Distance, distrust, and despair had wrapped their arms around her life.  But as she looks back now, she can see the faithfulness of God present through the darkest moments.

Many months later, though still stuck in legal battles to restore health and home, Dionne is a different person than when she first walked through our doors. After getting connected to mental health professionals and finding a sense of belonging, she is now full of joy, sometimes found singing and laughing on her way into the Mac Street Café. She reflects on how her lifelong relationship with God has looked different over time, but that she has found the promised peace of a life walking in faith.

Dionne eventually moved out of Cherry Street, into her own home where she continues to crochet and knit, has her favorite foods in the fridge and fills her time with visits from family.  She still faces daily battles to keep herself healthy and sustain her purpose in life.  We pray that Dionne will not have to walk back through the doors at Cherry Street again.  But if she does, we’ll be here to help.

This is what support from our donors accomplishes. It is so much more than Dionne finding a home- it means providing the opportunity to find oneself and the peace of God. It means getting connected to the right professionals to bring about health and stability. Without a safe harbor for Dionne in her darkest moments and a supportive team to help her lift her head, there would be no laughing and singing bursting from her heart, perhaps only heartache. Your generosity makes life change happen in your community, helping the hopeless find hope, and those who are hungry for change find more than they might ask or imagine.


Ready For Life makes an impact

Ready For Life makes an impact

STRATEGIC PROCESSES ARE STANDARDIZING CARE AND IMPROVING OUTCOMES

The pandemic at Cherry Street has pushed and challenged us. But during this complex time, the team was hard at work strategizing and refreshing one of our key efforts in the fight against poverty.

The “Ready For Life” program was relaunched  out of the  desire to standardize and strategize our approach to care and wholeness. The entire Engagement Team was hard at work creating Standard Operating Procedures and developing trainings, manuals, and much more to comply with best practices as prescribed by experts in the Social Work field and person centered care.

Not only will these updates enable staff to dive into a more efficient and effective workflow that will lead to greater impact on the  guests and the community, but reporting and tracking processes will be brought into alignment with our partners and strengthen data shared within the community and government.

The Ready For Life launch was a true team effort. One of the staff leaders who played a heavy role in developing this curriculum was the Ready For Life Manager, Nora Riggs. Nora is a Licensed Social Worker and holds a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Toledo.

“We’ve seen guests start to think beyond the moment-to think about what life can look like when they have sustainable income, healthy relationships, and stable housing,” said Nora. “Guests are attending weekly support groups that follow a monthly theme, with curriculum to guide the advocates in each topic.

“The advocates are doing a wonderful job applying the intensive training they received and have completed 84 goal plans with guests in our first 30 days of the RFL relaunch! We thank God for every member of the team who has helped us get to this point, and are excited for the work that will continue to change lives and bring restoration & hope to our guests.”

“We’ve seen guests start to think beyond the moment-to think about what life can look like when they have sustainable income, healthy relationships, and stable housing.”

We are excited to see the continued impacts of the program as it continues to demonstrate life change. Thank you for championing the strategic work of  Cherry  Street  and making a difference in the lives of those served.


Mark's Return to Civilian Life

Mark’s Return to Civilian Life

It is an unfortunate circumstance that many veterans who have served our country fall on hard times when they return to civilian life.  The effects of PTSD impact these individuals and often create struggles they never imagined they would experience.

Mark came to Cherry Street Mission Ministries fighting some of those battles.  After completing his service with the U.S. Army, he returned to the life he had coveted before.  He used his army skills to readjust and began a life outside of the military.  When his VA pension checks were repeatedly lost in the Covid-delayed mail, he experienced homelessness for the first time in his life.  Mark found his way to Cherry Street and began living by his motto “Get a job, go to school, do something to get back on your own.”  Being a permanent resident at Cherry Street was never Mark’s plan.  He worked towards his goal of becoming independent, employed and eventually went on to live on his own again.

Cherry Street advocates have been with Mark on his journey, walking beside him and helping him reach his goals.  They have helped him work with the VA to coordinate his benefits, receive vocational training to become a mechanic and prayed with him at his AA group meetings.  Cherry Street advocates are here to help with every step of the way.

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