Homeless receive a hand up in Medina County
Marina Malenic | The Gazette
Published on Dec. 18, 2016 | Updated 11:26 p. m.

As winter starts to bite in Northeast Ohio, volunteers at a loosely affiliated group of Medina County churches known as Operation Homes are making sure that homeless people in the area are not left out in the cold.

Nancy Abbott, the group’s treasurer, said homelessness in Medina County is often a hidden problem.

“People in Medina may not be sleeping on grates like you would see in big cities,” she said. “You’re more likely to find them sleeping in their vans or bouncing from friend’s house to friend’s house, until there are no friends left.”

Operation Homes seeks to help people who have lost their jobs or their homes and need a safe place to stay while they get back on their feet. Each of the 15 or so affiliated churches rotates weekly in providing overnight shelter, as well as lunches and dinners.

Meanwhile, St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church on North Broadway Street in Medina provides a daytime home base with showers and washers and dryers for those in need, said Abbott, who’s Medina Municipal Court’s clerk of courts.

The organization was started by volunteers from several area churches about 20 years ago. It has had an annual operating budget of about $35,000 per year for the past three years, Abbott said. All of that money comes from donations and fundraisers like the spaghetti dinner held at Prince of Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church earlier this year.

Abbot said the organization’s largest expenditure is transportation, as it helps people get to job interviews or to look for new apartments. Its volunteers support people who “need a helping hand” for three months or less. She added that many people who have received help from Operation Homes have returned to help as volunteers or to donate money after they’ve gotten back on their feet.

Other churches affiliated with Operation Homes include Granger United Methodist Church on Granger Road; Heartland Community Church on Weymouth Road; Medina Community Church on Broadway Street; Our Lady Help of Christians on Norwalk Road; and Wadsworth United Methodist Church on Broad Street, according to Operation Homes’ website.

Contact reporter Marina Malenic at (330) 721-4063 or nmalenic@medina-gazette.com.