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EXPANDING mission



Published: Tue, July 3, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



With operations added in East Liverpool, the ministry received a nearly $200,000 HUD grant.

By NANCY TULLIS

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

COLUMBIANA -- The Way Station has a new home and lofty goals.

Since June 15, the ministry, which provides immediate and long-term assistance to the needy of Columbiana County, has been relocating from its Park Avenue site to the former Miller Furniture building at 42131 state Route 14 just west of the city.

The transition, however, has not stalled The Way Station's operation. Last week a counselor led clients around unopened boxes and plastic bags filled with used clothing to an office area where employees are identified by their names penned on sheets of legal paper tacked outside their cubicles.

Clothing store: At the front of the building, Cameron Flory, director of the clothing ministry, has the used clothing area organized in department store fashion. In the back, volunteers sorted and sized donated clothing while Jan Hoover, director of the food ministry, prepared bags of food for distribution.

Jim Couchenour, ministry founder and board chairman, was nearly at a loss for words in describing the impact the new building will have on The Way Station's operation.

He said the ministry, which has grown significantly since inception in 1988, will use every inch of the 18,520-square-foot building.

"We've been stepping on each other for some time," Couchenour said of the 4,500 square feet of the building at 202 Park Ave.

Grant from government: Couchenour said a nearly $200,000 grant awarded to the ministry from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will enable The Way Station to employ a full-time executive director and a director for its East Liverpool site and expand a few programs.

He said that though the HUD grant is not a matching grant, The Way Station's board is committed to a fund-raising campaign to generate three times the grant amount over the next three years.

A separate campaign to raise the funds for the new building also will soon be under way, he said.

Setting goals: Over that three-year period, the board has set goals of creating 39 new jobs, helping 240 people keep their jobs, training 95 people for new job skills and rehabilitating 10 housing units for low income families.

Melinda Holshopple, community development officer for the Mahoning County Chemical Dependency Program, has been named The Way Station's executive director. Couchenour said she will take over the position full time within 90 days.

Frank Morrison is the interim director of the East Liverpool site, Couchenour said.

Basic needs: Couchenour said that though The Way Station is best known for meeting basic needs such as food, clothing, emergency shelter and temporary housing, its goal is to assist the needy in removing obstacles that stand in the way of their self-sufficiency, not only financially, but emotionally and spiritually as well.

After evaluating needs, The Way Station staff directs clients to community and county support agencies.

The Way Station also provides adult literacy training, carpentry and construction skills training, tutoring and summer lunch programs for children, general job training and legal assistance.

Couchenour's wife, Pat, coordinates a ministry to area Hispanics, providing English as a second language, tutoring, job training, and citizenship classes.

Groups such as Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous also meet at The Way Station. The ministry also offers its own support group for female survivors of sexual abuse, and Overcomers, a Christian 12-step recovery program.

tullis@vindy.com




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