Jun. 6—LIMA — The Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce is holding its 19th annual awards gala on Wednesday, June 9 at the UNOH Event Center.
Each year the chamber recognizes member businesses for the work they've done.
In the Non-Profit category, there are three finalists — Family Promise, Lima Symphony Orchestra and St. Mark's United Methodist Church Resource Center in Lima.
To be considered for the Non-Profit of the Year Award, the nominated organization must provide a description of the most important agency activity of the past year that benefited the community; must be a non-profit, public or private sector 501 (c) 3 that provides a service to people in the Lima/Allen County Area; must promote a safe and accessible workplace and service; must be financially sound, must mentor new employees, volunteers and board members through adequate training; must participate and support collaborative efforts among non-profits and organization in the community and prove a description of how their services improve the Allen County economy.
Family Promise at 129 S. Pierce St. in Lima is a homeless shelter for families with children and is run by Helen Douglas.
According to their nominating letter, Family Promise was founded in 2008 when the founding members recognized the need for an agency to provide temporary housing for entire families. Other local shelters provide shelter for single males or single females with children but there was no option for single fathers with custody of their children or for two-parent households.
"At Family Promise, our mission is to keep them together and to help keep these families from living in their cars, tents or worse. We give them a safe place to rest so that they may be able to focus on rebuilding their lives," Douglas stated in the nomination letter.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, they couldn't operate from their Day Center and none of the churches would host them.
At the same time, the City of Lima was forming a non-congregate shelter program for the "at-risk" and or homeless individuals who tested positive with COVID-19, but had no place to shelter in place or quarantine.
Family Promise stepped up and offered to oversee the project and partner with local agencies to provide service for the at-risk homeless in the community and in turn agreed to supply rooms for Family Promise families also.
The Non-Congregate Shelter program and Family Promise of Lima/Allen County has been operating as sort of a dual-program since March of 2020, according to the nominating letter. They are operating with support from WOCAP, BOSCOC Region 12, United Way, Our Daily Bread, Coleman's Professional Services, Wingate Hotel and have assisted more than 157 people with 114 of them finding permanent housing.
Lima Symphony Orchestra
The Lima Symphony Orchestra performs mostly at the Veterans Memorial Civic and Convention Center but its members have also performed in churches, schools and libraries as part of their outreach into the community.
According to the nominating letter to the chamber, the Lima Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1953. Its director is Elizabeth Brown-Ellis.
"The Lima Symphony Orchestra is dedicated to preserving musical excellence as a living part of our community, now and for future generations through performance, education, engagement and strategic partnerships," the nominating letter stated. "The LSO has grown from a volunteer community group to a professional regional orchestra, performing five classical concerts, holiday and New Year's Pops concerts, Candlelight chamber concerts at regional churches, a family concert, free summer Patriotic Pops concerts and two free educational concerts each season."
The Lima Symphony has collaborated not only with the Veterans Memorial Civic Center but also the Lima Public Library for free educational programs. They've also gone into area schools and performed educational workshops.
Each month, symphony members perform at Coleman's Crisis Stabilization Unit, Union Square Apartments, Mercy Health-St. Rita's Medical Center, SAFY and the Allen/Oakwood Correctional Institute.
St. Mark's United Methodist Church Resource Center
Jessie Roark is director of St. Mark's UMC Resource Center at 1110 N. Metcalf St. in Lima. Roark helps low-income people with food, clothing and assistance with their utility bills.
According to the nominating letter to the chamber, the resource center opened on September 14, 2014 and has offered a variety of services on a continual basis.
Food pantry clients can come in once a month for a three-day supply of food.
Ruth's Closet clients can also shop for free clothing and household items.
The facility also has a weekly produce distribution and hosts meetings for Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous.
"St. Mark's United Methodist Church Resource Center was a vision of director Jessie Roark. The death of her daughter and many other circumstances had caused her to end up homeless with two young children in the middle of winter in Ohio," the letter stated.
She sought help from a young pastor and later in life "felt the call to give back what was so graciously given to her."
The resource center is also active in helping people who have been incarcerated to return to the community and has partnered with numerous agencies.
"Twice a month a group of us get together to write letters to women in prison. This program is called Hope Letters. We participate in Prison Fellowship Angel Tree for Christmas for children of incarcerated parents," the letter stated.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.