by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
At the end of the meeting, which took place in the dining room of St. Peter's Episcopal Church, committees for housing improvements, gardening, cleanup, and public relations had been formed, sign up sheets fluttering around the room as attendees added their names and contact information.
Ashtabula is facing challenges today, with steadily increasing demands on social services as families struggle harder each month just to survive.
Father David of St. Peter's outlined the program his church is carrying out now. This begins with their program on Monday nights. Participants confront the decisions they have made which make success impossible in their lives. Working through a list of questions they find answers, building on small successes. Finding a job is a step on the way. The process takes them beyond survival to the potential for realizing the far greater success which is possible to each of us.
Nicole Varkett from Extreme Mission, located next to Perry's on Main Street, was also there to talk about her goal to establish temporary housing, which can become a base for action, for the homeless presently struggling to survive through freezing nights spent on the streets of Ashtabula. Finding enough food for the growing numbers of people who face homelessness is only one of their goals. Lorrie is determined to provide housing, separate facilities for men and women, to ensure security and provide the peace of mind so essential if each is to successfully transition back to normalcy.
Children will soon be starting their seedlings for springtime to be planted in gardens providing food for the family and flowers to lighten the heart, according to Lorrie Woodard, who is working on starting up community gardening at a location near St. Peter's Church. The monthly newsletter Lorrie passed out showed the area on which they are focusing now. Water, soil augmentation, and the need for a shed and implements, hoes, and rakes, were included.
Time Banking, a practice which allows to, “share their time and talents,” accumulating credit for hours spent assisting others, and so put into action improvements of their own, is being organized. The mission is weaving together of community, neighbor knowing neighbor.
Cleaning up the neighborhood, repairing homes, and beginning a road back to prosperity through enterprise and innovation were recurred themes, as people spoke.
My Neighborhood will continue to meet, and to work. When people come together, what is possible becomes boundless.