By BRENNA GRITEMAN
On any given night, City Mission of Findlay houses 100 of some of the community’s most vulnerable individuals.
In daytime hours, the homeless shelter provides financial, mental health and spiritual guidance to those 100 people. And between breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Mission feeds 300 meals a day, including those taking shelter there and guests from the community.
Operations director Ruthie Tong says the Mission has housed an average 100 men, women and children nightly for the past six months. This is on top of an already steady increase from 10,349 nights of lodging provided in 2016 to 18,640 in 2017, and an estimated 20,000 nights of lodging in 2018.
Tong says it might be hard for those unfamiliar with the Mission to visualize the 100 individuals housed nightly, or to understand that homelessness is an issue at all in Findlay and Hancock County.
To help illustrate this reality, City Mission will host a Shine a Light on Homelessness event at 7 p.m. Friday in downtown Findlay. During the 100-minute ceremony, 100 men, women and children — some City Mission residents and some volunteers — will hold lighted candles and share facts about homelessness, and local success stories.
Community members are invited to come light their own candle and help line Main Street, starting at the courthouse and moving south.
The event is also designed to show a generous community all that it has helped the Mission to achieve in the past 85 years.
“This community has wrapped itself around us,” Tong says, noting that for 85 years, the Mission has operated solely through financial support and donations from businesses, churches and individual donors.
“We are very honored to represent how Findlay loves its neighbors.”
As an example, Tong looks no further than the kitchen. With a director, two cooks and an army of volunteers, the Mission feeds 300 nutritious meals a day. Meals are provided entirely through community partnerships and donations, and if a call for milk is put out on Facebook, staff can expect up to 50 gallons to arrive by the end of the day.
“We’re kind of the best visual of how Findlay loves one another,” Tong says.
The agency is currently seeking donors to help purchase bunk beds, which will increase the Mission’s bed capacity to 100. Many guests are now sleeping on cots, Tong says.
The bunk beds cost $850 per set and include bed bug-resistant mattresses. Nine businesses and individuals have committed to a purchase so far, but 11 more sets are needed.
During National Homelessness and Hunger Week, Nov. 16-24, City Mission will seek to further educate the public on who it serves, and how. Watch the agency’s Facebook page all week for photos, videos and more information.