Cherry Street Mission Ministries set to open four new schools

Wendy Cornett

Cherry Street Mission Ministries, the largest organization serving the poor and homeless in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan, has expanded its reach to help bridge the gap between what Rev. Dan Rogers calls the “transformative state” and reentry into local society.

“To have somebody who’s an alcoholic or drug addict or prostitute come through a transformative process, it’s not redemptive enough if they’re still sleeping in a shelter bed,” began Rev. Rogers, president and CEO of Cherry Street Mission Ministries. “What is redemptive, though, is once you’re recovered and once you’re in a transformative state, let’s get you home, and the only way to get you home and help you stay home is through meaningful employment and meaningful reentry into the community.”

Cherry Street Mission Ministries was founded in 1947 – in the heart of Toledo’s skid row – and originally strived to aid returning veterans from World War II as they battled alcoholism and struggled to re-acclimate.

During its 70-year history, the mission’s vision and operations have evolved into a network of 17 facilities that run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Services include food, emergency shelter, transitional housing, spiritual support, transformative programming, job readiness, clothing and furniture.

“We’ve just continued to innovate and stay ahead of how people can destroy their own lives,” said Rev. Rogers. “We’re very A to Z. We have medical clinics, education centers, overnight stay, elderly housing, family housing, and the region’s largest furniture and clothing bank.”

Cherry Street’s latest innovation is its Life Revitalization Center, located in the former Macomber High School at 1501 Monroe St., where the mission now offers education, training and job placement services – all of which Rev. Rogers hopes will help people make that leap back into meaningful employment and meaningful reentry into the community.

Through a partnership with Penta Career Center, the Life Revitalization Center hosts GED classes – open to Cherry Street guests as well as members of the community – and vocational training that includes auto technician, state-tested nursing assistant, call center training and culinary training programs.

Every 24 hours, more than 400 men, women and children access one of Cherry Street’s services, and more than 2,000 stay under a Cherry Street roof every year. Rev. Rogers estimates that about 100 men and women actually make it home through the mission’s restorative services, but there are 1,000 more who don’t. He wants to see this statistic change, and the Life Revitalization Center – and its collaborative efforts with Penta and other area organizations – may be just the bridge needed to span the gap.

“What the Life Revitalization Center represents is the opportunity for more people to go home,” he added. “If you’re going to build a bridge, you can build a bridge with iron or you can build a bridge with people. We’re choosing to build a bridge with people, because that’s the one that will last.”

Show your support for the local community. For more information about Cherry Street Mission Ministries and its services, call (419) 214-3007; email danrogers@cherrystreetmission.org; or visit http://www.cherrystreetmission.org/.

Click on the video for full interview.