A "Gateway to Kindness" that was built in Westerville is being extended to Grove City and other central Ohio communities.

Neighborhood Bridges Grove City is scheduled to go online Nov. 15.

As in its parent community of Westerville, the Grove City program will use the web and social media as tools "to help identify specific needs in the community and link to the residents, businesses or organizations that can solve that need," said Rick Bannister, founder and CEO of Neighborhood Bridges.

The program recently expanded to Gahanna. Bannister started the 501(c)3 charity in January in Westerville, his home community.

"I've been involved in a number of projects in Westerville, and what I found was that whenever someone put up a hand needing help, there was always someone who was able to and wanted to help," he said. "Our mission is to provide a gateway to kindness. There are a lot of families who are in need."

Since it launched in Westerville, Neighborhood Bridges has helped arrange 3,737 acts of kindness and 99.8 percent of posted needs have been filled.

"Just the other day, we posted that a family needed a washer and dryer," Bannister said. "Before the sun came up the next day, someone had contacted us and said they would donate a washer/dryer. That's how this program works."

Warren Gard will serve as area director for Neighborhood Bridges Grove City.

"I've been involved in volunteer activities for a number of years," Gard said. "When Rick started telling me about Neighborhood Bridges, it took only a few minutes for me to understand the value of the project."

Neighborhood Bridges is not designed to supplant community organizations and the work they do, he said.

"Bridges is a way to bridge all these organizations together and extend their reach," Gard said. "It's all about how quickly can we solve a need in the community.

"We have a number of individuals and families within our community who have immediate needs," he said. "The Grove City community is known for its compassion and volunteer organizations. With Neighborhood Bridges, we can use technology to work together to meet the need in our community."

As in Westerville and Gahanna, the Grove City program has its own website, grovecitybridges.org.

Neighborhood Bridges posts specific needs based on referrals presented by community advocates, such as school administrators, counselors, ministers, mental-health advocates and service organizations, Bannister said.

"They come to our website and we put information about the need," he said. "We don't tell anything about the individual. The community sees the posted need and we engage the community for assistance."

Residents, businesses and organizations can sign up as a subscriber to the Grove City program at no cost, Bannister said.

Subscribers receive notifications whenever a new need is posted, he said.

Other community members serving on the Grove City Bridges steering committee with Gard include:

* Steve Robinette, retired Grove City police chief and current city councilman.

* Laura Lanese, who represents the Grove City community in the Ohio House of Representatives.

* Ed Fleming, president of the Grove City Noon Lions Club.

* Christine Houk, firm manager with Houk Certified Public Accountant.

* Allen Houk, CPA and owner of Houk Certified Public Accountant.

* Allen Jones, attorney, the law offices of James Allen Jones III LLC.

* Rick Hardy, sergeant-community services, Grove City Division of Police.

The initial focus of the Grove City Bridges program will be Grove City, but it will ultimately extend to the entire South-Western City School District, Gard said.

The Neighborhood Bridges program itself is continuing to expand, Bannister said.

"Our next Bridges community will be Dublin and we plan to expand to several other central Ohio communities before the end of the year," he said.

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