Let's Build Beds partners with Cherry Street

April 16, 2024 – TOLEDO (Ohio) – Every child deserves a bed of their own to sleep in at night. Let’s Build Beds, a local organization that provides children in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan a safe and comfortable place to sleep, has partnered with Cherry Street Mission Ministries Workforce Development to prepare the bed materials used to build the beds.

Let’s Build Beds has built nearly 5,000 beds in the last 6 years to give to children in the community. This year, 9 students from Cherry Street’s Workforce Development Building Trades class assisted in preparation of the bed materials that will help 22 children have a place of their own to dream. Once the beds are built, volunteers deliver and help set up the children’s new bedframe. A new coil spring mattress is then placed on top along with a new set of twin size sheets, comforter and pillow.
“We are thrilled to be a part of a solution to help children in the community while providing a learning opportunity for our Building Trades students.” says Devon Fitzpatrick, Workforce Development Manager at Cherry Street. “We strive to find innovative ways to make a difference and create a win-win partnership that benefits both Let’s Build Beds as well as children in need.”

For more information about how you can become involved with Let’s Build, visit letsbuild.org.

Cherry Street Mission Ministries Workforce Development program offers a combination of technical skills, hands-on training and job readiness skills to help individuals find gainful employment. Classes are offered in Building Trades, Welding, Tool & Die, Auto Technology, Office Specialist, and Culinary Arts and are open to the community and free of direct cost to the student. Students complete classes on a part-time basis and can be completed in 2-3 months. For more information, visit cherrystreetmission.org/workforcedevelopment/.

13abc The NINE with Denise Johnson

13abc The NINE with Denise Johnson

Local family’s gift opens new possibilities for Cherry Street Mission Ministries guests

Local family’s gift opens new possibilities for Cherry Street Mission Ministries guests

The Feldstein family donated hundreds of products from their Sylvania-based business.

People who are experiencing homelessness are often outside in all kinds of weather. While many of us think about donating clothes, there’s another way you can help protect people in the elements.

An umbrella may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of making a donation to a shelter. A local family’s gift of hundreds of umbrellas to Cherry Street Mission Ministries shows how powerful the item can be.

It’s a simple gift with a big impact for those who come to Cherry Street for help.

“When we’ve had rainy days our guests might come back inside soaking wet after being out looking for a job or housing or going to a doctor’s appointment,” said Nora Riggs, Program Manager at Cherry Street Mission Ministries. “It can be defeating, one more thing against them. It’s something most of us take for granted.”

The Feldstein family donated hundreds of umbrellas to the mission this summer. Mark Feldstein and Associates develops products that are sold all over North America by major retailers and QVC. The list of products sold by the company includes inverted umbrellas.

“This is a simple gesture on our part,” said Howard Feldstein, Marketing Manager with Mark Feldstein and Associates. “It is not going to change the world, but we figured if we could provide something important to the guests at Cherry Street, that was something we were very glad to do. Normally, when people put their umbrella down their hands get soaked. Our umbrella inverts up so the water goes in the base of the umbrella, and all you have to do is drain it.”

Nora says the umbrellas provide much more than cover on a rainy day.

“It’s a tangible gift,” said Riggs. “A tangible item that says I see you and you matter. An umbrella can be a big gift It means a lot more than the item. It means someone cares. Someone is paying attention and they want you to be successful.”

Nora adds that it’s gifts like this that really help open up a whole new world for many of the guests at Cherry Street.

“It’s not often the big things that make a difference. It’s a series of small events or people that can add up to big change. One small gift, one person can make a difference. We have guests who just need someone to talk to, so you can donate your time as well. To have someone look at them in the eye is important to them.”

If you’d like to learn more about ways you can help, click here.

Toledo’s Cherry Street Mission provides training, education

Toledo’s Cherry Street Mission provides training, education

Cherry Street Mission Ministries partners with local educators and employers for providing training and education in the trade workforce.

(Left to Right) Derrick Parker, Derrion Boyd, Kiara Houston, Michael Bartley, Jaquan Overbey, Chris Braswell. Six graduates of the Workforce Development Program, receiving certificates through the Automotive Oil Change Association. Image courtesy of Tami Norris.

The Cherry Street Mission Ministries along with Northwest State Community College, Opportunity Kitchen and Owens Community College, started the Workforce Development Program. This provides training in areas of Office Specialist, Building Trades, Welding, Tool and Die, Manufacturing, Automotive Technician and Culinary Arts. Each of these training programs are tied to careers that are in demand in our region. Cherry Street collaborates with over 50 employers and job placement services in the area to build the bridge to employment.

On July 1, six graduates from the Workforce Development Program received certificates through the Automotive Oil Change Association. Together, Northwest State Community College and Cherry Street provide a combination of technical, hands-on training with the job readiness skills that will help them overcome the barriers that are keeping them from successful employment.

We spoke with a representative from the Cherry Street Mission Ministries to learn more about this program.

What led to having this program started?
The Workforce Development programs at Cherry Street Mission Ministries started around 2015 with our first classes graduating in 2016. The idea came as part of a holistic system we were building here at the Life Revitalization Center (LRC). Our goal is to come alongside people to help them build stability in housing, income, and relationships. Part of the income goal is a sustainable career that pays a livable wage. Often some type of education is needed for those jobs, not necessarily a degree, but hands-on training with some type of certification. The five programs we offer here are based on market demand and input from our employer partners and Ohio Means Jobs.

Why not just send them to a college partner?
Our college partners are a vital part of this training. The programs we offer here at Cherry Street have been customized to fit the needs of our guests and employer partners. In addition to the technical skills training, participants receive job readiness training to help them overcome some of the barriers they may have had to successful employment. These topics include emotional intelligence, prioritization, conflict resolution, avoiding self-sabotage, financial literacy, and more. Additionally, here at the LRC we offer job search assistance and tutoring in our skills lab. Cherry Street also has mental health service and meals being served out of the LRC so it becomes a hub of activity all under one roof.

The automotive program specifically started as we were hearing of demand from area employers for service technicians and quick lube technicians. These jobs did not specifically need ASE certification, but it was helpful for new employees to have a foundation in automotive topics such as tools, how the engine works, how to change brakes, oil, etc. This program was designed to bridge the gap to employment.

How did Northwest State CC and the Automotive Oil Change Association come into the mix?
Owens Community College and Northwest State Community College have been our educational partners since the inception of our Workforce Development programs. Northwest State had put together an automotive training program at the Defiance Dream Center in Defiance, Ohio that included the AOCA certification. They were able to modify the program under advisement from our employer partners Tireman and Yark Automotive to fit needs in the Toledo area that we could then offer here at Cherry Street.

(Left to Right) David Conover, Mike Kocinski, Jaquan Overbey, Derrick Parker, Kiara Houston, Michael Bartley, Devon Fitzpatrick, Jean Rowland-Poplawski. Image courtesy of Tami Norris.

What kind of demand for people in the trades are you seeing? Any particular industries more than others?
The programs that we offer were selected based on industry information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Lucas County In Demand Job List and input from our employer partners. We want to make sure that we are training for open positions, in encouraging/supportive environments that benefit the students and our community.

When I was in school (class of 2014), college and the military were the highest-encouraged postgraduate routes. When did you see the shift in encouraging students to pursue the trades?
I see the trades as a viable option. These jobs provide the opportunity for stable, entry-level jobs that provide opportunity for education along with the work. They are a great alternative for people who did not thrive in a traditional academic setting. To me, learning is a life-long adventure. Each person has a unique path, there is no one right way. Personally, I am somewhere in my 50’s and I am back in grad school at BGSU. Not a traditional path, but it is right for me. I am seeing more and more high school counselors embrace this idea that there are options and you have to pick what is right for you.

Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
The Workforce Development programs offered at Cherry Street are non-credit. We designed this intentionally as some of our guests do not yet have a GED or High School diploma. We encourage them to pursue completing that, but wanted to make sure it was not a barrier to them continuing their career-based education and employment. The college partners offer certificates of completion and the programs have an industry recognized credential that students can complete as part of the training.

For more information about Cherry Street Mission Ministries, please visit the Cherry Street Mission website.

Cherry Street Mission sees impact of inflation

Cherry Street Mission sees impact of inflation

The faces of those walking into Cherry Street Mission Ministries right now are different.

“The biggest increase in guests that we’ve seen are people who are homeless for the very first time in their life,” said Ann Ebbert, president and CEO of Cherry Street.

Rapid inflation and employment stagnation have caused many who were living close to the poverty line to now fall below.

“They can’t believe, right, that they’re coming to a homeless shelter to seek basic services that they’ve always provided for themselves.”

Those walking through the door are hurt, confused and going through the stages of grief.

But Ebbert said by coming to Cherry Street, they can walk through those stages with a trained counselor if needed and begin taking steps toward a new life.

“If you come here for this short period of time and then also get trained, that individual could potentially come to Cherry Street and leave better than when they first came.”

But inflation hasn’t just impacted Cherry Street with a rapid increase in those seeking shelter. It’s affecting their daily services. Serving lunch three times a day. What was once a $14 carton of eggs is now $44 for Cherry Street.

“We pay for utilities and groceries and washing your linens and all of those kind of things like everyone else does. So we’re experiencing the same kind of pinch. On top of that then, right, so we have inflation, on top of that we have higher need.”

While the effects are palpable, from seeing more people in need to helping all of those in need, Cherry Street expects inflation’s impact to last for at least another year.

Despite that length of time, Ebbert says Cherry Street is staying committed to its mission.

“We’re going to have to be super creative and be able to appeal to the folks in Toledo and the Toledo region to stand beside us to be able to just manage this moment.”

If you are interested in donating to Cherry Street during this time, volunteering and donation opportunities are listed at cherrystreetmission.org.

Local shelters offer homeless population a place to cool off

Local shelters offer homeless population a place to cool off

People who are homeless often face an life-or-death struggle to stay warm in the winter, but it’s just as important to be able to escape the heat in the summer.

Here in Toledo, there’s a solution: St. Paul’s Community Center and Cherry Street Mission Ministries offer people a place to cool off during the day.

“We allow people to come in, even if they aren’t clients, they can come in and have respite from the heat. We always have snacks, hot, nutritious meals, our showers are open to the public, as well as restrooms, and definitely now that it’s hot we always have ice cold water available for them,” said Joe Habib, the director of St. Paul’s.

It’s more of the same a couple blocks over at Cherry Street Mission Ministries.

“We are seeing a lot of people who are homeless come inside to get out of the heat, get out of the elements,” said Kelly Schroder, the marketing manager at Cherry Street. “It’s cool in there, and we can offer them some water. We are a cooling station for those who need it.”

Compared to this time last year, Schroder said they’ve seen an 84 percent increase in homelessness.

“I’m sure a lot of that is due to the economy, the heat. A lot of people are just coming to Cherry Street Mission Ministries to get out of the elements, to get out of the sun,” said Schroder.

Even if the shelters don’t have an open bed, both places say people are welcome to come get food and spend the day in the air conditioning.

“People experiencing homelessness experience it 365 days a year, so we get the cold days and the hot days,” said Habib. “As far as we’re concerned, we are the safety net of the community whether it’s cold, whether it’s hot.”

And Habib said that providing a place for people to escape the heat is a necessity for the community.

“It’s a big thing for us because it gets hot. At least in the night time it gets a little bit cooler, a little bit better. But in the daytime I can’t work in my yard for two minutes before I have to go in and have a glass of water. People are people, they experience the same thing. They are welcome to come here,” said Habib.

Visit Cherry Street Mission Ministries and St. Paul’s Community Center’s websites for all the services they provide.

Cherry Street Mission honors newest graduates in Workforce Development program

Cherry Street Mission honors newest graduates in Workforce Development program

In a full room, family members and teachers watched with smiles on their faces as six graduates received their certification in pre-automotive technology.

“It feels good. Feels wonderful. Achievement. Worked hard. Didn’t miss any days, good attendance. You know, just stayed focused,” graduate Kiara Houston said.

The graduation comes after the eight-week program at Cherry Street Mission Ministries in collaboration with Northwest State Community College.

“To the students it’s a victory. It’s an opportunity to celebrate them and the work that they’ve put into this program,” said Tami Norris, vice president of workforce development.

During the past two months, students received hands-on experience in oil and tire changes that will help them take the next steps in their lives.

“It’s giving them skills that they can use right away in an area that they expressed interest in so that’s the celebration part that they have these new skills that make them work-ready.”

And for David Conover, as one of the teachers for the students, it made him proud to see his students come so far.

“We worked on some cars. We rebuilt a small engine to see how an engine works,” Conover said. “I very much enjoyed working with this group of students. They’re very, work well together. They’ve actually worked well as a team.”

But the day was the most sentimental for the graduates who explained that while this program prepared them to take on their new jobs, they will miss their class and the teachers that got them to this place.

“It just got me prepared for what I’m about to go set out to do,” graduate Jaquan Overbey said. “Hopefully I get hired at Tireman. That’s about it. And I’m trying to get back into school now so that’s one of my pathways going forward.”

Houston added, “It’s bittersweet that it’s over, honestly. I had fun. It was fun.”

Some of the graduates said that this certificate will only help them gain another certificate to continue bettering their futures.