You might think that living in the suburbs automatically means jobs are easier to come by, there’s enough food and living necessities for everyone, and that the poverty growth rate is small.
Unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the poverty growth rate in the suburbs is eight times greater than urban areas in Greater Cincinnati, according to Care Center director Greg Knake.
But instead of simply fretting over the statistics, Greg and his army of more than 250 volunteers work to combat that problem in the Loveland area and beyond with the Care Center.
Operating out of and rooted in the Northstar Church on Lebanon Road, the organization’s mission is: “helping people remove barriers and build the resources they need to thrive in life.” “We really are a resource center that’s about life advancement—about helping people get to the next place in life,” Greg says.
The Heart of the Operation
The Care Center has been offering help to those in need for the past 16 years, mainly operating through referrals from partner organizations, other churches and community outreach efforts.
Greg and other volunteers also go door-to-door, dropping off practical gifts (like tissues or paper towels) as a way to introduce themselves to the community. “It’s more about how we can serve, be in the community and build relationships.”
They also let people know they can come to the center on the first and third Wednesdays of every month from 7–8:15 p.m. to receive relief in the form of personal hygiene products, cleaning supplies and paper goods. These items, in addition to diapers, deodorant, toilet paper and other personal articles are not covered by assistance programs such as SNAP.
The goal of the Wednesday night events is to provide a friendly, welcoming and safe space. They also try to make it fun and party-like as well, with Tano Bistro providing food.
“We have a strategy that relief will lead to relationships that are going to produce real-life change—so we lead with the relief side of it,” Greg says. “The Care Center really started out of the understanding that we meet people where they’re at. Oftentimes we see [that when] people are just participating with the relief and there’s no opportunity to advance, it traps them in a deeper cycle of poverty.”
The Care Center also offers encouragement, assistance, practical resources and community to families in need, with no geographical restrictions. Greg estimates about half of their guests come from the 45140 area, but notes in the past year they’ve served people from 56 different zip codes.
“If you can get here, we’ll welcome you wholeheartedly.”
Expanding Their Reach
Since the Care Center sees about 650 individual families over the course of a year, they are finding themselves in need of more space.
To that end, they are building a new center (adjacent to the Northstar Church) that will open its doors in fall 2020.
“We looked at best practices around the city and around the country, and to do it really well we have to partner with other organizations,” Greg says. “With our workshops, we are using every square inch so we can’t invite partners in. We’re connecting with different partners now—and in the future will expand that to be able to provide even more resources to devote to the whole person.”
The Center also wants to increase the number of hours they are open and expand programs to include one-on-one coaching and mentoring— helping with job placement and building basic life skills that people need to break the cycle.
“The expansion is really about being able to go much deeper with our existing guests and start to go wider with people that maybe can’t come because we’re not open during the right hours,” Greg explains.
The Care Center is always in need of volunteers and donations to keep their programs running and to serve more people in the Loveland area and beyond. To learn more about how you can help, contact Greg directly at Greg@CareCenterInfo.com.
CareCenterInfo.com | 11020 S. Lebanon Rd. | 513.453.7999
The Care Center is open on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of every month from 7–8:15 p.m. Guests can receive relief in the form of personal hygiene products, cleaning supplies and paper goods, as well as attend personal growth workshops and enjoy a dinner catered by Tano Bistro.