Cherry Street Mission Ministries is more than a soup kitchen; it's a life vocational experience

For the past 75 years, they've made it their mission to help people by eradicating poverty one person at a time.

Author: Jeremy Downing

TOLEDO, Ohio — As anyone in immediate need of a helping hand knows, Cherry Street Mission Ministries can be a lifesaver, whether it’s a warm meal and a place to sleep on a cold winter night or a safe place for domestic violence survivors. But there’s much more to how they help our communities.

“We are able to do things that other small communities aren’t able to do. So we’ll have people visit Cherry Street to get healthy again and then go back to the community that maybe they came from or maybe they’ll choose a new community to go participate in.”

Cherry Street Mission Ministries CEO Ann Ebbert says for the past 75 years, they’ve made it their mission to help people by eradicating poverty in the surrounding 25 counties.

Ebbert says they usually see about 1,500 people a year, but in the last year and a half that help has become more in demand and they’re seeing an increase of about 30 to 35 new, first-time people a month.

“What we’ve seen is a remarkable increase in people coming to our front door who would be called first-time homeless. Right now we are seeing numbers that we typically see in the middle of February, which is our heavy, high season, as you can imagine. The pandemic really made it vibrantly clear that there are a group of people that have absolutely no other options.”

Help is always available, but the assistance Cherry Street offers is more than you might think since they are much more than just a soup kitchen.

Cherry Street partners with both Toledo vocational schools as well as Owens Community College to offer career certificates for career-level jobs to teach skills for jobs in welding, tool and die, auto manufacturing, office specialists and even job placement.

“Everything from soft-skills, like how to have good attendance and a good attitude, to how to do a resume and how to have a great interview.”

They also offer baseline healthcare, substance abuse help and mental health services and place an emphasis on creating healthy relationships; all of which are available to anyone in the community, not just residents.

“Because you can have all the skills but if you don’t know how to create relationships,” Ebbert says, “you don’t have the boundaries in your life that will keep you on track to use your skills.”

Cherry Street is also adding new training classes next year in the building and construction trades and will be partnering with Mercy Health and ProMedica to provide medical beds for people getting out of the hospital but don’t have a home to go to fully recover.

Ebbert says their mission to help others has a bonus, it also means helping themselves as well.

“That ability to look someone in the eye and say ‘we’re humans together and we’re going to work through this together’ is just an amazing experience to have as a staff person here.”

Cherry Street Mission Ministries currently has 65-70 staff members and 2,500 volunteers working 24/7 365 days a year and can always use more help in terms of donations and volunteering.

Thanksgiving at Cherry Street

November 9, 2021- TOLEDO (Ohio) – For nearly 75 years, Cherry Street Mission Ministries has served individuals who are hungry and experiencing homelessness in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan.  Community members come to Cherry Street who need a bed, safety and maybe a special meal this holiday season.  Community members come to Cherry Street who are Hungry:  Hungry for Change, Hungry for a Career, Hungry for Success, Hungry for Direction.  Working together we can address the needs of those who are hungry and together we can start Feeding Futures.

Upcoming Thanksgiving Events:

  • 11.9.21 – 12.31.21 Volunteer sign up for Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons
  • 11.1.21 – Registration open for Dave’s Running Shop Turkey Chase
  • Thursday, 11.25.21, 7:00 am to 8:00 am – Autumn themed breakfast at Mac Street Café
  • Thursday, 11.25.21 @ 9:00 am Turkey Chase Thanksgiving Tradition begins.  Proceeds to benefit Cherry Street Mission Ministries.
  • Thursday, 11.25.21, 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm – Lunch catered by Real Seafood, served restaurant-style by Chick-Fil-A staff
  • Thursday, 11.25.21, 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm – Southern inspired dinner at Mac Street Café

Food donations and meal supplies can be dropped off at 1501 Monroe Street, off 16th Street at the Life Revitalization Center building Monday through Friday from 9 am to 12 pm.  If you need to drop off outside of these hours or have questions concerning donations, please contact Kary Jo Gribble at 419.214.3321.

Monetary donations can be mailed to: Cherry Street Mission Ministries, PO Box 9100, Toledo, OH 43697-9100 or you can donate online at

Volunteers will be needed throughout the day to make it a special day for all.  The community can make an impact on those living in poverty by donating toward the meals and volunteering their time.  For more information on volunteering contact Hallie at or at 419.214.3419.

BREAKFAST AT MAC STREET CAFÉ – 7:00 am to 8:30 am
Thursday, November 25, 2021 – 1501 Monroe St. Toledo, OH 43604
Located within the Life Revitalization Center, Mac Street Café will be serving pumpkin spice pancakes with syrup and cranberry glaze, muffins, scrambled eggs, sausage links, maple chicken and fruit salad.  Meals and celebrations are available to all Cherry Street guests.

Thursday, November 25, 2021 – Mac Street Café, 1501 Monroe St. Toledo, OH  43604
Lunch will be served in the Mac Street Café in the Life Revitalization Center.  Live music will be played, and lunch will be served restaurant-style by Chick-Fil-A staff and volunteers. Meals and celebrations are available to all Cherry Street guests.

DINNER AT MAC STREET CAFÉ – 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Thursday, November 25, 2021 – 1501 Monroe St. Toledo, OH 43604
Located within the Life Revitalization Center, Mac Street Café will be serving a Southern inspired meal.   Meals and celebrations are available to all Cherry Street guests.

Jerry’s Story

Victor arrived at the door of Cherry Street without hope.

Victor arrived at the door of Cherry Street without hope.  His voice flat, his eyes glazed.  Victor talked about suicide.  Staff prayed with Victor.  Staff prayed for Victor.  As part of the Ready For Life program, Cherry Street got Victor connected to the appropriate services to help him and to support his mental health needs.  In a spark of inspiration (thank you Jesus for the idea!), the staff suggested to Victor the possibility of a service dog.  When a dog was first mentioned, it was the first time anyone had seen any life in his eyes.  Even though Victor is only going through the beginning paperwork- he has HOPE.  All it took was for someone to listen to him, to see him as Our Creator sees him, and to work the Ready for Life process.  Victor is Hungry for Hope.

🤍 Give

Amanda is Hungry for Hope

Amanda is Hungry for Hope.  Hope is an essential message at Cherry Street and was restored to Amanda with a renewed goal toward a stable life.

Amanda arrived at the Cherry Street door without options and low on hope.  She had her service dog and a bag of personal belongings.  In her time with us (during a pandemic, no less) she gained a fresh outlook and gained courage.

Cherry Street made it possible for Amanda to stay safe while she sorted things out.  She is now in a place of her own.  Gifts and supplies from the community allowed Cherry Street to provide Amanda food and household supplies to begin her renewed life.

🤍 Get Involved

Cherry Street Mission Ministries Experiences 400% Increase

September 20, 2021- TOLEDO (Ohio) –

The end of the eviction moratorium, staff over-time, increased expenses, less volunteer help, and a rise in people needing help are impacting our kitchen, library, Mac Street Café — critical to providing meals, shelter and a path toward a changed life.

Cherry Street is providing emergency shelter to 33% more people as compared to the same time last year.   From May to August the organization saw 400% more new faces arriving, homeless for the first time in their life- all due to Covid-19.

Furthermore, the shelter has experienced an increase in Covid-19 positive cases.  At this time, 10% of the men and women served by Cherry Street are positive for Covid-19.  Following the guidelines of the CDC, positive guests are receiving appropriate care and have been separated from others.

It’s not winter and yet the shelter beds are filling up.  Nonetheless, Ann Ebbert, CEO/President of Cherry Street; the area’s largest emergency shelter; said “We will not turn men and women away”.

Cherry Street’s staff are exceptional and already utilize healthy practices for preventing the spread of disease and viruses. Led by the facilities team, Cherry Street is using strategies that have proven useful and are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.  This includes the frequent disinfection of hard surfaces and high traffic areas. Face masks must be worn by all guests, employees, visitors, volunteers and partners. Cherry Street has been working ceaselessly to ensure the health and safety of those served is at the forefront.  Due in large part to those measures, since the pandemic began, no one staying at Cherry Street has died because of Covid-19.

Cherry Street has been well stocked with food, soap, bottled water, hand sanitizer, cleaning chemicals, and disinfectant wipes. However, extraordinary purchases and the increase in the amount of people needing emergency assistance from the organization is unprecedented and has affected the budget of the organization.  Throughout the pandemic, ministry programs have not yet been impacted. It is crucial the care and provision to those served at Cherry Street continues uninterrupted as it has since 1947.  Monetary support from the public will help bridge the gaps.

Cherry Street will continue to care for the most vulnerable in the community and care for people living in poverty. Donations and the wish list can be viewed on the website:

'Be the Bridge' for Cherry Street Mission

'Be the Bridge' for Cherry Street Mission

Exciting things happening around Cherry Street!

Take a moment to learn from our staff about the exciting things happening around Cherry Street!

Who doesn’t love a success story?

Who doesn’t love a success story? Here at Cherry Street Mission Ministries, they are our reward, and we revel in the achievements of our guests. Most recently we are rejoicing in Elaina’s new start. She has been at Cherry Street since April 2020, and now she is gone! She just moved into her own apartment, and in the fall, she will be a student in the nursing program at The University of Toledo. Woohoo!

Elaina believes that the resources that she learned about at Cherry Street and the help she received to navigate through the complexities of accessing them have been major factors in her journey back to the community outside our doors. She reports that staff have provided support she never would have found anywhere else, especially staff members Ernie and Alison. Cherry Street has become her safety net, her support system. She now has a new perspective on her abilities and possibilities; she knows that a fresh start is not just possible but is within her reach. Although Elaina has been a Christian her entire life, being at Cherry Street has strengthened her faith. With the help of staff and another resident, she has worked through painful issues that she had been struggling with.

Although Elaina may not say or realize it, her success also comes from a quiet inner strength, strength that she brought with her to Cherry Street and takes with her into a bright future. The ministry of Cherry Street has helped Elaina walk in that strength.

Although most of you will never know Elaina or any of the many guests and residents of this ministry, you play as large a role their success as any staff member. Staff is on the ground only to the extent that your gifts allow them to be there. Our guests, residents, and staff thank you from the bottom of their hearts for all that you do through your gifts and resources. You are the best!