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  • Tammi Ector

Serving at Serve City - Spring 2024




"For such a time as this." (Esther 4:14, NIV). That's the Scripture that comes to mind whenever I consider my position as the Executive Director at Serve City. When I began exploring the possibility of leaving my role as the Women's Center Director at Hope House in the winter of 2022, doubt and fear whispered that I should not take on such a massive role leading a homeless shelter and housing program that daily serves and supports over 100 individuals transitioning from homelessness to sustainable success, especially during the last year of my doctoral program, but the Holy Spirit spoke louder and compelled me to go for it. And despite the many ups and downs the first year brought, I'm thankful that I listened because I learned the truth of what a doctoral degree couldn’t teach me: When God calls you to it, He’ll bring you through it.


SUCCESSES


Soon after our former intake specialist, Amber Johnson, who recently received a nomination to the National Society of Leadership and Success, got promoted to her new role as shelter manager, the staff and I were honored to have the Ohio Department of Development leadership team visit Serve City. Amber, our Housing Manager, Dustin Bowman, our Volunteer and Community Engagement Manager, Jeff Gambrell, and the rest of the Serve City team did an outstanding job showing them our refreshed spaces -including new kitchen equipment from Shared Harvest - and sharing our holistic wraparound services. The ODOD expressed how impressed they were by how hard everyone works and how much we care.




We recently learned that we received a grant to transition all 25 Shekinah Step 2 Move Forward efficiency units into Permanent Supportive Housing. Once individuals move into the units, they will receive the ongoing support needed to maintain their housing.


At the beginning of the year, the board and I had to make the difficult decision to suspend the Choices Pantry temporarily. Without grant funding in place, we could no longer sustain the pantry. The media covered the closing extensively; somehow, the community misinterpreted our communications to mean Serve City was on the verge of closing. The opposite is true! Closing the pantry enabled us to focus our resources on the unique value we add to the community through our emergency shelter, transitional housing (TH), and permanent supportive housing (PSH). It also gave us time to reimagine the former pantry in a way that blesses the 50 residents we shelter each night, the 73 tenants in our apartments, the community, and in a way that the organization can sustain. Though we have not finalized the details, we do know that The Source will serve as a meal and muti-ministry/use space for pop-up Bible studies, clothing/home goods boutiques, educational classes (ex. budgeting, employment, job-readiness, life skills, etc.), the dental mobile unit, concerts, events, resource fairs, talent shows, tax preparation, and yes, pop-up food pantries! The possibilities are endless.


Through the generosity of Queen of Peace School and their fundraising efforts, we opened the QOP Food Insecurity Fund with the Hamilton Community Foundation. We have begun revamping our space to include mobile shelving units that will allow us the flexibility to use

the space as needed. A few weeks ago, as a part of our Love Your Neighbor Campaign, we used the empty floor space for a Love Your Neighbors' Moves dance-a-thon. With lots of help from staff, shelter residents, and community volunteers, my dance friends and I led an hour-and-a-half of dance to a Christian/clean playlist. All 8 Up donated pizza. The night of fun, fellowship, friend-raising, and food gave us a feel for how The Source can function! The Source will launch officially at the end of May when Hamilton's City Public Works wraps up its annual Fill-A-Truck campaign that collects food for Serve City.


STRUGGLES


As Serve City trends upward, Satan tries to take us down. Donations have decreased due to confusion around the pantry suspension, the economy, and naysayers sharing inaccurate information. We’ve experienced unexpected staffing changes, cuts, and tumultuous transitions. That’s the bad news. The good news is that what Satan means for harm, God uses for good. He continues to bless our efforts and provides and places the perfect people in positions. For instance, He’s grown our board to include the newest member, Liz Hayden, Hamilton’s Director of Planning – who adds tremendous value. Instead of riding the struggle bus, we have the right people in the right seats!


SUPPORT NEEDED


Serve City appreciates all your contributions, donations, meal sponsoring, volunteerism, support, and prayers. A $20 donation allows us to provide at least 10 meals to residents in our shelter! We also need more of everything! We need board members with bookkeeping, grants, and human resources expertise. We need volunteers with handyman skills to assist with projects. I have one outstanding administrative support volunteer. If only I could clone her! – or get a few more like her! It would also help if you could follow us on social media, like and share our posts, and spread the word about Serve! I'd also love to share at a church service or agency meeting.


Finally, for this year’s Fill-A-Truck, we’ve pivoted and will partner with churches (instead of schools) to collect food. The Leadership Team and I look forward to at least twelve area churches stepping into the gaps to fill the trucks.





SCRIPTURE


Serve City has done beautiful kingdom work for two decades. And God is still at work here. "See, I am doing a new thing! It springs up; do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:19, NIV). In this case, it pops up! What a blessing you and I get to be a part of it!


Serving Him at Serve City,



Tammi Ector, MLC

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