Gahanna Residents In Need is consolidating efforts with other groups in response to a growing demand for assistance with clothing, food and household goods.
Jill Schuler, GRIN board member and vice president of the Gahanna-Jefferson Board of Education, said GRIN currently is working beyond capacity and has faced limitations in physical space, staffing and volunteers, and financial resources. Answering the call for a community-based organization focused on serving local residents, she said, the GRIN board has taken a direct step to expand its capacity to serve by uniting purposes and resources with local churches.
Stonybrook United Methodist Church's clothing pantry and GRIN's food pantry and financial assistance program at Mifflin Presbyterian Church will combine efforts. A referral program also will be added for other resources, such as furniture, financial planning and special-needs support, as well as a benefits bank-assistance program.
Tricia Twigg, GRIN board co-chairperson, said a site exploration committee has been formed to gather all options for the new organization that will be housed under one roof.
"As of right now, we have no time lines set," she said. "This is a very exciting time for GRIN."
The new location is expected to provide GRIN with the ability to purchase food at bulk prices and to serve fresh foods to families as a result of access to refrigeration for food preservation. Plans also include plenty of storage space for the clothing pantry that would serve as a hub for social services.
The centralization of services is expected to allow all GRIN-affiliated organizations to operate at a higher level than any single entity could attain independently, Schuler said. The concentration of volunteers should provide increased support and a single point of contact for the residents and allow for consistent hours of access for all services offered, she said.
"This organization will continue to be fundamentally GRIN, but it has the potential to be much more," Schuler said. "By housing these disparate community assistance groups from across the city under a single roof, we can pool resources to create greater efficiencies and increase our potential to serve more families and broaden the services rendered by all ministries."
Schuler said one indicator of cultural and economic shifts in the community is the number of families applying for free and reduced-price lunches in the Gahanna schools.
In the past five years, the percentage has increased from 20 to 26 percent throughout the school district. Area churches also have noticed Ji include other community members to fully implement the vision of the new group, Schuler said.
The new organization will kick off with a major fundraising event sponsored by the Driven Foundation, featuring former football players from the Ohio State University Buckeyes.
The players will include Craig Krenzel, Antonio Smith, Stanley Jackson and Roy Hall in a charity basketball game to be held at 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 4, at Gahanna Lincoln High School, 140 S. Hamilton Road.
Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children ages 3 and older. Free autographs will be provided. More information is available online at DrivenFoundation.org.