Often, individuals and families working with Geauga Co. Job and Family Services have needs that go beyond the scope of traditional assistance programs. Other times, they may have exhausted traditional assistance, but the need still exists.
Community Support and Volunteer Services assists Geauga Co. residents who are facing hardship by collaborating with community partners such as churches, organizations, civic groups, businesses, and individuals to assist in meeting the need. This is accomplished by identifying and verifying a client’s need and then contacting community partners (individuals, churches, organizations and civic groups) to request their assistance in meeting the need.
In addition, Community Support and Volunteer Services also coordinates the following programs throughout the year:
Volunteer Tutoring Program -
The Volunteer Tutoring program began in 2010 as a pilot program at Jordak Elementary and Cardinal Intermediate School in the Cardinal School district. In 2011, the program expanded to include Burton Elementary School in the Berkshire School district. Ledgemont Elementary joined the program in 2014 and Newbury Elementary joined in 2015. Since its inception, the Volunteer Tutoring Program has provided additional help to thousands of elementary school students. The goal of the program is to match individuals interested in volunteering with children who need extra help in school. Individuals can volunteer to work one on one with a student or help in a classroom setting. Volunteers complete a training and background check, and are then placed in the school. Currently, there are 30 volunteers in this program.
Financial Education Workshops -
The Financial Education Workshop is a two part workshop offered to Geauga County residents free of charge. The goal of the workshop is to empower Geauga County residents to make informed financial decisions for themselves and their families. Workshop topics include communicating about money, creating a personalized budget, how to pay down debt, improving your credit score, and identity theft. One on one budgeting assistance is also available.
Sponsor A Family -
Supported solely by donations and sponsorships for over 45 years, The Sponsor a Family program matches low income families, foster children, and seniors in Geauga County with food and gifts for the holidays. In 2016, 510 families, from every geographic location in the county, received help through the Sponsor a Family program. This translates to 1,716 people served and included over 1003 children who received toys and gifts! Approximately 1,450 pounds of food was donated and distributed to families in need throughout Geauga County. In 2016, 170 sponsors participated by either "adopting a family" or collecting food or toys to be distributed by JFS. An army of volunteers joined in sorting and packing food and toys. Each year on delivery day, JFS staff and volunteers deliver the food and gifts to families. Over$15,000 was donated in 2016 along with hundreds of toys.
Summer Camp and Enrichment Program -
Geauga County Job and Family Service’s Summer Camp and Enrichment Program provides Geauga JFS foster kids and low income children in Geauga County with an opportunity to enjoy a summer camp experience or enrichment activity. The Summer Camp and Enrichment Program is funded entirely through donations. In 2017, over $26,000 was donated and over 100 children benefited from the program. Activities children have participated in include resident and day camp, gymnastics, little league baseball, football and basketball camp, YMCA camp, music lessons, soccer, cheerleading, and karate camp, foster children in our agency’s custody receive first priority. Some foster children, because of special needs, must go to camps that are quite costly.
Monetary donations to the Summer Camp program also assist families with pay to participate fees and school field trips. Limited funding has forced many schools to institute a “pay to participate” policy for after school activities. These participation fees can range anywhere from $100 per year up to $450 per sport. Donations can be made to Special Services of Geauga Co. Please indicate "Summer Camp" in the memo portion of your check.
Senior Assistance Program -
As the population of Geauga Co. continues to age, so do the needs of some of our senior residents. The Senior Assistance Program was developed to help with some of the "unmet" needs our senior residents face due to economic hardship. Seniors must contact Geauga JFS to apply for help, and requests are evaulated on a case by case basis. Seniors must have exhausted all other traditional assistance programs available before applying for help. Donations are needed to keep this program funded. Checkes may be made payable to: Special Services of Geauga Co. Please indicate Senior Assistance Program in the memo portion of the check.
Help Me Learn -
Each year, Geauga County JFS sponsors the “Help Me Learn” program to help children in need throughout Geauga County with school supplies for the upcoming school year. The program, supported solely from donations, receives a variety of school supplies including back packs, paper, notebooks, binders, markers, pencils, pens, crayons, and scissors. Monetary donations are used to purchase additional supplies needed for the program. Qualifying families register for one of the two distribution events, one held at JFS, and the other at Chagrin Falls Park Community Center. Parents are encouraged to bring their children so they can "shop" for school supplies. Volunteers help the kids fill the items on their school supply list. There is no cost to the families but they do need to demonstrate a need to participate. Donations are received throughout the county by individuals, churches, and organizations. Last year we received over $9,600 in monetary donations, and thousands of schools supplies. As a result, more than 514 children, from every school district in the county, received help with school supplies. We also collaborated with Morning Star Friends church who organized a clothing give away and hair cuts on the same day.
Housing Assistance -
The Housing Assist Program was established to help with housing issues and avoid homelessness for Geauga County residents. Donations fund the program and can help with rent, utilities and minor essential home repairs. Clients must first apply for traditional assistance programs when available. Request will be considered on a case by case basis.
Families and individuals may also receive assistance, through donations from the community, for a variety of needs that traditional programs don't cover or have already been accessed. These needs are evulated on a case by case basis.
Geauga JFS manages a small food pantry to assist client who are in need of emergency food and personal care items. Giant Eagle gift cards are also available to help familes with perishable food items and gas on an as needed/case by case basis.
Geauga JFS coordinates donations of beds, appliances, furniture, diapers and personal care products to be distributed to families in the county who are in need. Families in emergent need due to domestic violence or natural disaster take priority. Families are contacted and delivery is scheduled when a particular items is received.
Clothing, shoes, and small household items can be obtained at The Sunshine Shop. The Sunshine Shop is a non- profit thrift store located at the Burton Fairgrounds. Individuals needing help can obtain a voucher from Geauga JFS. The Sunshine Shop hours are Friday and Saturday from 10am – 2pm.
Organizations, clubs, and individuals looking for volunteer opportunities can be matched with a family needing some support or assistance. They may choose to assist on a limited/one time basis or they can help the family throughout the year. This may include yard work, minor repairs to the home, helping with food, helping a client move, transporting a client to a medical appointment out of county, or tutoring.
Tax deductable donations to any of the above programs can be made payable to: Special Services of Geauga Co. and mailed to: Geauga Co. JFS, 12480 Ravenwood Dr., Chardon, OH 44024. Please indicate the program you would like to support in the memo portion of your check.
For more information on any of the Community Support programs, please contact:
Community Support/Volunteer Coordinator
Geauga Co. Job and Family Services440-285-9141, ext. 1263