Roughly $30,000 from Oberlin Community Services has gone toward helping Wellington village and township residents navigate financial difficulty over the past year, the organization told village council Nov. 19.
Executive director Margie Flood said the OCS food pantry has served 600 Wellington residents from 180 households in 2018.
She asked village council for aid through financing, publicity, or both.
“OCS has been providing services to residents of Wellington and all of southern Lorain County for over 60 years,” Flood said. “Wellington residents look to OCS for help in many ways. Our food pantry turnout from Wellington represents about 12 percent of the total population. My understanding is the poverty rate in Wellington is around 14 percent, so we’re reaching a lot of the people who are most in need. Most of these families access the pantry numerous times over the course of the year.”
Flood said recorded use of the OCS food pantry does not include food deliveries made to village residents.
“Our help often involves help making end’s meet and doing that is often the result of OCS giving direct financial assistance,” she said. “This means paying their village of Wellington utility bill or paying rent to a Wellington landlord, or car repair expenses that go to a Wellington service center. OCS money is going directly into the Wellington economy to help strengthen it.”
“It was about $30,000 last year but multiply that by the 60 years OCS has been helping Wellington and it’s a pretty big number,” Flood added.
No set amount of financial aid for OCS was discussed during the meeting with council.
OCS was founded in 1955 and now serves the city of Oberlin as well as Brighton, Camden, Carlisle, Huntington, LaGrange, New Russia, Penfield, Pittfield, Rochester, and Wellington townships. Its food pantry is located in Oberlin at 285 South Professor St.
The organization is a nonprofit and receives funding through entities such as the Nord Family Foundation, United Way, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as through private donations.
Services offered include help with casework and employment forms, financial management classes, GED training, after-school student programming, tax preparation, vouchers to cover the cost of prescription drugs, utility shutoff and re-connection, and housing payments.
“A couple from Wellington I’ve worked with, I’ll call them Kim and John, were starting to do really well after having a couple of setbacks with John’s job,” said OCS client services coordinator Kathy Burns. “Things were really looking up for them but then John had a medical crisis. Overnight, their lives change as he was hospitalized and not able to return to work for some time. Kim was a stay-at-home mom, so the bills started to pile up. When the family was faced with having their lights shut off, they were referred to us by Wellington utilities as a place to reach out to.”
Burns said OCS referred the couple to agencies that helped them catch up on overdue mortgage payments.
“We were able to bring them entirely current on their utilities,” she said. “Most importantly, we made a connection with someone in the Wellington community who didn’t know where to turn during this difficult time.”