Clermont 20/20 youth student leaders have donated $500 to the Batavia James Sauls Homeless Shelter.
As part of a required group project for Look to Clermont, the youth leadership initiative of Clermont 20/20, the students held a fund-raiser at the Milford Bowling Lanes on St. Patrick’s Day to raise the donated funds which were presented to the shelter in an informal check presentation ceremony April 18.
Bethel-Tate High School junior Tammy Guseman, 17, said that they chose the shelter because they wanted to ease the stress and ‘help out’ the homeless population in the county.
“Our group was the health and wellness group,” she said at the shelter April 18. “We designed our fund-raising efforts around that. We all collaborated on the idea and thought how great it would be to raise money to help the homeless in our own community. We know that so many people get turned away from the shelter every year and that is really sad and just unacceptable.”
Dr. Wasserman and the Salvation Army got the shelter going many years ago and ran the daily operations until July 2004 when the Clermont Community Services organization stepped in to oversee its management.
In 2006, the James Sauls Homeless Shelter, which can only comfortably accommodate 17 people at any given time, served more than 200 people. Due to the small scale of the facility, 491 people seeking shelter had to be turned away just last year alone.
Shelter residents of all genders and ages (including some entire families) are given time, usually a week, to actively pursue employment and personal income in exchange for the sanctuary that the shelter provides; residents are also required to perform small daily chores and are provided with three meals per day.
Because the shelter is clearly not big enough to accommodate the needs of all those struggling with homelessness in the county, the shelter is hoping to construct a larger facility on two acres of land off Old State Route 32 that was donated to the shelter by the Batavia Township Board of Trustees earlier this year.
"We are hoping this fall to build a larger building that will be double the size of the current one," said shelter coordinator Leann Townes. "We know that it will still not take care of the overwhelming need for ample shelter of the homeless in the county, but it's a start."
The shelter, which has no operational funding and is entirely dependent upon volunteers and generous private donations, has received several donations totalling $110,000 from companies such as Fifth Third and PNC Banks; that money will go towards the construction of the proposed new shelter.
The Look To Clermont $500 donation from the high school students will also help with those efforts, said Townes.
"What these kids have done for us today is wonderful," she said. "Watching and talking to these kids makes you anticipate the great things that they will do in the future because of what we can all see them doing today. If this is what the future leadership of the county looks like, then we all are in excellent hands."
Look To Clermont is the youth initiative of Clermont 20/20, an organization dedicated to serving as a "catalyst to bring people together to improve the quality of life in Clermont County." The Look To Clermont youth program is made up of juniors and seniors from the county high schools and has been designed to build leadership skills and instill a life-long commitment and appreciation for community service.
The homeless shelter, located on Wasserman Drive in Batavia, is planning a fund-raiser for this summer July 12. Anyone interested in making a donation is urged to call Leann Townes at (513) 735-8806.