In 1992 the Georgetown United Methodist Church had a very important decision to make. Should the church remain in downtown Georgetown? Other churches had moved out of downtown, out by the big highway. The parishioners felt it important to remain downtown to maintain a presence as a historical and mission cornerstone in the center of town. The church expanded the best it could buying the building next store and using the space to build a large fellowship hall adding storage and class room space.
The recession struck the Appalachian town very hard in 2007-08. The county seat of Brown County, Ohio (4,500 pop.), saw the departure of the county hospital, the town’s only department store, two appliance stores and even its major grocery store. Jobs and commerce were lost. Times changed very quickly for the historically proud town. With widely available subsidized housing and ample sleeping room accommodations, the town realized a growth in transient population. This town had not witnessed a downturn like this since the Great Depression. Also, Georgetown was struck, like the rest of southern Ohio, with an opiod crisis. Brown County led the state in deaths from drug overdoses (per capita) in 2015 and remains near the top of Ohio's fatality list.
The church, in the center of downtown, was in the right place at the right time to help those in need.
In the fellowship hall, the church hosts a monthly community lunch. The free meal serves the elderly and the indigent. People gather to socialize and enjoy a free meal on a Saturday. There are many seniors in the area and many people need an opportunity to socialize with other people.
The church also operates a “toiletry pantry” out of a large closet in the fellowship hall. The closet quickly filled to capacity as this mission took off. Food stamps and money earned at a minimum wage job only goes so far for those in need. The church wanted to stretch those budgets a little bit further. Many of these people are parents with children or extended families.
When space became available in the church’s building next store it was decided to expand the “toiletry pantry” there. Thus, began demolition in preparation of the new space. The church received a $1,000 grant from the United Methodist Foundation to help transform the space. The pantry receives money for donations for the poor, but it was decided that aside from the $1,000 grant to be used for construction, other donations need to be used on items for the pantry users.
Each month those who qualify receive a paper grocery bag which includes toothpaste, deodorant, feminine hygiene products, soap, shampoo and disposable razors to name a few items. The church has received donations of products from town businesses and the local Boy Scout troop among others in support of this program.
To this date the church has only been able to serve no more than 80 families each month. An expansion of the program to the added space would allow more people to be served.
The church hopes to do four things with this project.
- Provide toiletry items for poor families.
- Provide a place where people can meet other people and build relationships.
- Add space to increase the number of people we can serve and securely house donations.
- Provide a space where people can stay warm in an emergency.
Your donations would go to revamping this space so that the Toiletry Pantry can expand and become an important part of our community.