MOUNT GILEAD — United Methodist Women from several churches in Morrow County enjoyed a salad luncheon at Trinity UM Church June 17.
Trinity UMW President Marilyn Turner spoke about the 150th anniversary of the women’s mission and service group that takes place this year nationally.
Following the luncheon, Jodi Hayes spoke about the mission and agencies of United Way in Morrow County.
“My work is building bridges between people in Morrow County who need help and those who want to give help,” said Hayes, who serves as Executive Director.
Hayes spoke about the work of several agencies in the county including: three food pantries, Helpline 2-1-1 call center, Seniors on Center services for those needing transportation, Morrow County Community Center fitness programs, Maryhaven and Maryhaven Stable Cradle program, Heart of Ohio Homeless Shelter Turning Point, and Red Cross Blood services.
Esther’s Dream, which is at Cherry Street School building, has 1,400 prom and homecoming dresses that are available free of charge for high school students. 800 dresses with accessories have been given to girls from all over the county in the past five years.
There were many sighs and smiles as Hayes spoke about the enthusiasm of Courtnie Dettra Howell who works with women who are addicted at Stable Cradle. She reported that of the 31 babies born to mothers in the Stable Cradle program, 30 were born without drug addictions.
Two special programs for United Way in the past two years were Shack City and Bridges out of Poverty. Shack City included several from the community who built shelters on the Mount Gilead Square one cold weekend. Their goal was to raise awareness for the homeless.
A new agency is Catalyst Life Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing. They were able to link a family in the county with counseling and enable a child to communicate with deaf parents. A new project is “Women United” in which initiatives for service projects come from women in the group.
“Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle,” said Hayes as she passed out small packages of mints.
The mints were part of the story of a homeless man she got acquainted with a couple years ago. He was living in a tent behind Kroger’s store. Hayes had daily conversations with him and looked for ways she could help him.
The man said “sometimes all he really wanted was a refreshing mint.” One day before Christmas he called to say he would be fine and she should enjoy the Christmas season with her family. The next day someone stopped in her office to tell her they found the man’s body and that he had hung himself on the trestle bridge nearby.
Losing that friend was difficult, but it has kept Hayes handing out mints wherever she goes and reminding people to keep inspiring hope for tomorrow.
Contributions and questions can be directed to United Way of Morrow County, 900 Meadow Drive, Suite B, Mount Gilead, OH 43338, or email: Jodi@unitedwayofmorrowcounty.com. Phone: 419-946-2053.