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.

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.

'Never in a million years did I think I would be standing here' | Cherry Street Mission program readies graduates for the workforce

'Never in a million years did I think I would be standing here' | Cherry Street Mission program readies graduates for the workforce

Cherry Street Mission's Workforce Development Program graduated four people Friday. Some already have jobs waiting for them.

We’ve been reporting for months on employers having a hard time finding workers.

program offered by the Cherry Street Mission is helping to connect those employers with people who are ready to make a positive change in their lives.

“Never in a million years did I think I’d be standing here,” Dominic Beltran said at his graduation ceremony at Cherry Street Mission on Friday.

Beltran said it’s because until about nine months ago, drugs and alcohol ruled his life.

“I wasn’t able to get up since I was under the influence. So it made it very difficult to make it anywhere I needed to go,” Beltran said.

He went through rehab with the Salvation Army, which led him to Cherry Street Mission’s Workforce Development Program.

“It feels very good,” Beltran said. “Honestly, I don’t know how to explain it.”

Courses taught by Northwest State Community College and Owens Community College instructors are offered in building trades, office specialist and auto tech, among others.

“What we’ve done is looking at what are some of the in-demand jobs that are happening in Lucas County right now. We try to stay in touch with that and we offer programs to help bring people to those positions,” Tami Norris, Vice President of Workforce Development for Cherry Street Mission Ministries, said.

The programs are short, taking a couple of months to complete; graduates get a credential supported by the colleges.

“There’s a variety of funding streams available to help pay for the classes,” Norris said. “So we work with you to determine which is the best way to get you funded to go into the classes.”

While the number of people receiving unemployment benefits has dropped to its lowest level since the 1970s, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 1.5 million fewer Americans are working than before the pandemic.

The four graduates who got their certificates at Cherry Street now have the skills to get a job that pays a living wage.

Beltran already has one. He’s soon to be working as a roofer.

“I start Monday at 8 a.m.,” he said.

Six months after graduating from Building Trades class at Cherry Street, Dominic has earned a $2 raise and is on track to “have his own crew” as a foreman. Dominic has said that the insight and techniques, soft skills and success training he learned from the class has helped him deal with negative coworkers. Dominic is over one year sober and his relationship with Christ is truly blossoming.

If you’re interested in signing up for a workforce development course, click here.