Offering hot meals Monday â€“ Friday, the Amelia DiGirolamo Center of Hope is committed to addressing food access issues in Portage County. Most meals are lunches, but on Thursday they offer dinner to participants. All meals are served free of charge. The Center of Hope also operates a food pantry through the Christian Cupboard to assist those who may not otherwise be able to afford groceries.
Typically serving meals to 75â€“100 people per day, the Center of Hope was linked with Verder and Engleman Halls for their community partnership for the 2012-13 academic year. Without the support of the Verder and Engleman students and staff, many times the kitchen would have been understaffed and stretched thin.
The residence hall staff and students visited the Center of Hope on a monthly basis to help set up, serve, and clean up after lunches. During this time, students had the opportunity to talk with patrons and staff from the Center of Hope. Students were able to learn about this valuable community resource as well as about some of the agency needs. For example, summer is a time when the food pantry can run low on some items. In partnership with the National Residence Hall Honorary, Residence Services, Portage County Clothing Center and Family & Community Services of Ohio, we supplement the need through the annual â€œThrow & Go Programâ€ in which students can donate food items to local families in need.
Staff started out the year with a â€œPie Your RA in the Faceâ€, not only to raise awareness about the Center of Hope but also to encourage students to donate a canned good in return for pie throwing.
In October, Verder & Engleman resident assistant staff sponsored a Halloween party for the Center of Hopeâ€™s child patrons. Games were played, prizes were won, and of course, candy was distributed to everyone. Staff also sponsored collection drives for winter apparel (scarves, boots, mittens, gloves, and hats), and clothing to benefit Center of Hope patrons.
In reflecting on the opportunity to participate in the Center of Hope, student Ira Chapman noted, "I honestly did not know the extent of the need that the local community had for an establishment such as the Center of Hope before I volunteered there with my Residence Hall Staff. Seeing how the people of Ravenna come together to provide what they can for the needy, or the less fortunate, in their area is really inspirational and helps to further my faith in humanity. I witnessed people reaching out, not in judgment or out of pity, but reaching out with hearts that were genuine in their attempt to make a difference in the lives of those around them. To have been a part of that, even if only for a short period of time while performing community service, was both an honor and humbling."
Verder and Engleman Halls, wish to thank the Center of Hope for the opportunity to volunteer there throughout the year. It will definitely be an experience that they will not forget.