By Jane Ernsberger
Times-Junction News Editor
In May 2010, the First United Methodist Church started Starting Point Outreach Center. It’s goal was to serve those in need throughout the community.
That need is still present, and the Christian outreach center moved to a downtown location after those involved decided Starting Point needed to move outside the church walls. Seven years later, more than 8,700 client visits have been logged by those who, according to Starting Point, are looking for assistance, encouragement and hope to deal with life’s challenges and difficulties.
On Saturday, May 6, Starting Point Outreach Center is celebrating its seventh anniversary with a fundraising event at the Attica Fairgrounds Social Hall.
A buffet dinner will be served from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. and music will be provided by The Divots. There will also be live and silent auctions.
According to Don Peeler, director at Starting Point Outreach Center, the services offered help individuals and families.
“We are a starting point to find the help families need, no matter what the difficulty might be,” he explained, “and to connect with that help. “We are a starting point to continue to assist them to overcome the crisis or difficulty that they are having and to provide ongoing support and assistance to become and remain self-sufficient.”
Peeler said Starting Point is in the process of transitioning to a community-based nonprofit organization. It will be guided by a board of directors made up of community representatives from a wide and diverse background.
“We envision a partnership with churches, schools, organizations, industries, businesses, families and individuals working together to accomplish common goals for the good of the entire community,” Peeler noted. “Starting Point’s mission is to work together with the community to help individuals and families become self-sufficient and enjoy life with dignity, peace and justice.”
SPOC also serves as the screening agent and facilitator for the Willard Community Christian Service Organization to distribute financial assistance to needy families in the Willard City School District when a financial crisis might occur.
“We help Hispanic immigrants, including seasonal and migrant farm workers,” Peeler said, “by providing a wide range of services. We provide language translation, English language classes, assist in completing applications and documents in English and provide limited immigration legal services assistance. We employ a full-time bilingual community advocate to assist our Spanish speaking neighbors with these issues.”
Immigration lawyers from The Immigrant Worker Project, headquartered in Canton, are at SPOC twice a month, Peeler pointed out, to assist clients with affordable immigration legal services. The community advocate also gets training from the group.
“We have recently partnered with a group of recovering addicts,” noted Peeler, “who have adopted the name Team Hope to provide support and assistance to those in our community in need of treatment and recovery. Members of Team Hope are available at Starting Point to talk with anyone who needs help in dealing with addictions in their lives.
“This includes addicts, friends and families of addicts and anyone who wants to learn how to help reduce and eliminate this problem,” he added. “Team Hope has started Narcotics Anonymous meetings which are held on Tuesday evenings at First United Methodist Church beginning at 7 p.m. They are also holding community awareness and family support meetings on the first and third Monday of each month.”
Peeler pointed out there are no recovery houses in Huron County. Starting Point and Team Hope, he said, are working together to develop a plan to open a recovery house for men in the near future.
Tickets for the fundraiser are available by calling 419-933-4100. The fundraiser is sponsored by The Chevy Network and Sharpnack Chevrolet.