1 John 3:17 gives us a very strict charge when it says, “Suppose someone sees a brother or sister in need and is able to help them. If he doesn’t take pity on them, how can the love of God be in him?” A group of church members took this charge seriously and so Serve City’s Food Pantry began over 20 years ago in the basement of a local church. As the need continued to increase, we noticed most of the people coming for food were coming from the inner city. Due to the lack of transportation, people were unable to easily access the pantry. With much prayer and determination, it was decided the pantry would move to downtown Hamilton. This move gave us the opportunity to meet the people where they are.
In 2001, the Board of Directors of Serve City were discussing the extreme lack of resources, including shelter, for the homeless in the area. One area pastor commented that it was tragic that we had local churches sitting empty at night when people had nowhere to sleep. “The CHOSEN Shelter” (Residential Shelter) was born from this compassion. Several area churches agreed to host the homeless one week at a time until we could establish a permanent shelter. We would literally move the entire shelter and people to a different church every Sunday. Finally, in 2002, our remodeling was finished, and Chosen moved permanently into our current location at 622 East Avenue, and we have continued to improve and expand services since then! We currently provide shelter for up to 40 men and 12 women.
Serve City developed CHOICES Group Living Apartments to create a solution to a growing housing problem in the community. There was a breakdown in the housing system that left too many people without housing options. Many of them would end up in one of Butler County’s three emergency shelters and truly have nowhere else to go. CHOICES is providing transitional housing for homeless residents needing additional time to get back on their feet and PERMANENT housing for those falling through the cracks of existing services but requiring a supportive housing environment. CHOICES is providing 48 beds in 12 apartments and will follow a best-practice, resident-managed model developed by the low-Income Housing Institute in Seattle, Washington.
Shekinah Place Independent Living is Serve City’s 25 efficiency unit apartments located at 522 East Ave in Hamilton. Shekinah Place, which means the presence of God on earth or a symbol or manifestation of His presence, was opened in 2011 through the hard work and generosity of many individuals and churches. Serve City was privileged to receive funding for Shekinah Place from the City of Hamilton.
The Overnight Shelter was developed in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 crisis and the need for social distancing for the safety of our neighbors. In order to keep our neighbors safe, we had to lower our maximum census from 52 to 34. Instead of turning people away, we got creative with our space and opened the Overnight Shelter on Christmas Day 2020 in the community room. Every night we tear down the tables and chairs and set up a cot for those who are not able to get into the CHOSEN Shelter. We do not want to be an agency that has to say, “There is no room in the Inn”.
Serve City is excited to see what is next as we lean into the future with faith, hope, and expectation. If you'd like to be a part of the Serve City mission, just reach out and connect with us. We would love to talk with you about possibilities and connection points.
Serve City has been serving our neighbors for over two decades in this community offering life-saving, destiny-changing help and hope to those who are in need. Our organic roots have given birth to a powerful ministry that serves hundreds of people each year.