CINCINNATI -- Sean Romerill knows first-hand that City Gospel Mission saves lives.
It saved his.
Romerill was a homeless addict when he got a bed at the mission’s emergency shelter in Over-the-Rhine. The nonprofit gave him a place to sleep and two hot meals a day.
Before long, he was accepted into the Exodus Program, which offers long-term residential treatment for men who want to beat addiction to alcohol or drugs. Romerill graduated from the program in March and now lives in an apartment building operated by City Gospel Mission for Exodus graduates.
“It was a total lifestyle change,” said Romerill, 42, who drank and was hooked on heroin. “It’s not just about the drugs and alcohol. Today I have faith that no matter what happens, my savior’s got me.”
Now City Gospel Mission is trying to raise $600,000 by the end of this year to help more people – men like Romerill and also women and children who rely on the meals and programs the mission provides.
Called Feed Cincy Now, the fundraising campaign is the most ambitious in the nonprofit’s 89-year history. City Gospel Mission will use hundreds of TV, radio and print advertisements, along with billboards, direct mail, telemarketing and social media to spread the word.
The $600,000 the campaign seeks to raise would pay for 46,300 meals and comprehensive services for 3,500 adults and 4,000 children.
“Our organization continues to grow,” said City Gospel Mission President Roger Howell. “The financial side is not growing in proportion to the need.”
The nonprofit notes that over the past 15 years, Cincinnati’s homeless population has grown to more than 7,000 people a year. More than 1,600 people are homeless on any given day in Cincinnati. And 43 percent of City Gospel Mission’s adult clients are chronically mentally ill.
Beyond homelessness, Howell noted, poverty is a huge problem.
Roughly 34 percent of Cincinnati residents live in poverty, according to the latest U.S. Census data. More than 53 percent of the city’s children are poor.
“The travesty is we have such wealth in the community yet we continue to have the third highest poverty rate in the nation among big cities,” said Paul Spence, vice president of development.
The goal of the Feed Cincy Now campaign is to reach beyond City Gospel Mission’s regular donors and find new supporters who are willing to give, Spence said.
While City Gospel Mission is best known for providing hot meals and a place to sleep for homeless adults, the money will help pay for other services, too.
“We feed body, mind and soul,” Spence said.
The nonprofit’s Whiz Kids, for example, pairs needy children with adult mentors and tutors from local churches at 62 different sites across the region.
Its Having the Courage to Change program helps women struggling with addiction. And Jobs Plus, which recently merged with City Gospel Mission, helps 100 people a year find jobs through job readiness training and placement.
In all, City Gospel Mission serves 9,000 adults and 12,000 children each year with the help of 2,200 volunteers and more than 350 local churches, organizations, businesses and universities.
Howell said he hopes the Feed Cincy Now campaign will draw attention to the city’s needs and the many local nonprofits working to address them.
“It’s not just an issue of pulling yourself up by your boot straps and getting a job,” he said. “It’s more than that.”
But for many, like Romerill, help can start with a simple meal and a warm place to sleep.
To learn more about Feed Cincy Now or to contribute, go to feedcincynow.org.
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
The federal government plans to sue a local company for allegedly firing an employee who took unpaid leave to care for her sick niece.
Follow the latest from city council as they vote on whether or not to postpone the streetcar project.
Cincinnati's new city council voted Wednesday to postpone work on streetcar project in a 5-4 vote.
Seton High School teacher won a $58,851 Showcase Showdown on the “The Price Is Right” last summer and kept it secret from his own…
The Kenton County Airport Board voted Wednesday to hire special counsel to independently investigate the alleged wire-tapping detailed in a…
WCPO will be hosting a toy donation drive at nine area Kroger locations on Saturday, Dec. 7 to collect gifts for those in…
Lincoln Heights Elementary School was on a temporary lockdown Wednesday as police searched the area for a shooting suspect.
A Winter Storm Watch has been issued for the Tri-State for 6 a.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday.
Regional bank Fifth Third Bancorp is paying $6.5 million to settle Securities and Exchange Commission charges of improper accounting during…
Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty says he has told Brandon Phillips he is not in talks to be traded.