Trumbull officials weigh aiding domestic violence program

WARREN — As Trumbull County commissioners are nearing the end of the more than $38 million worth of American Rescue Plan funds, a few organizations are reminding them of previous requests made for consideration.

Rita Tate, founder of the one-year-old Bess Purpose Inc., said the organization provides assistance to women and their families in Mahoning and Trumbull counties as they work to remove themselves from sometimes violent households.

Tate made a second pitch for funds during last week’s commissioners workshop at which Commissioners Denny Malloy and Mauro Cantalamessa could collect information for the request.

While she originally sought to obtain more than $160,000 from Trumbull’s ARP funds, Tate last week said the organization would be grateful for any amount allocated by the commissioners.

She said the organization helps families relocate to new housing, provides assistance in getting housing and clothing, and provides other support.

Although based in Mahoning County, Tate said Bess Purpose Inc. provides services throughout the Mahoning Valley.

“When I brought our proposal before, we were servicing 47 families,” Tate said. “At 72 families, we are nearly double that amount today.”

Tate said the Mahoning County Commissioners agreed to provide the organization $40,000, which is being used to purchase a box truck. This will enable the group to deliver and pick up items.

She said the organization has received other awards,including a $3,000 grant from the Wean Foundation. Otherwise, it has operated primarily on smaller donations from groups and individuals, as well as from their own pockets.

“We are growing,” Tate said. “We can’t help families without funding.”

Bess Purpose Inc. will sponsor a resource fair 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 11 at Mill Creek Community Center, 496 Glenwood Ave., in Youngstown.

Trumbull County Auditor Martha Yoder told the commissioners that Tates’ request is on the commissioners’ “maybe” list for consideration. There are dozens of programs on its “yes” list that will be considered for financial consideration before the county will review the maybe requests.

Yoder noted the county only has about $912,590.38 left from its federal ARP allocation to distribute if all the requests that the commissioners have said they could support and meet all federal guidelines are approved.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Yoder reported the law firm examining ARP applications is actively reviewing requests from Kilar Foundation (Coalburg Lake Dam Study), Veterans Outreach, a request from Eastgate to provide funds for a broadband coordinator, Farmington Township, Gustavus Township and the Howland Historical Society.

A $135,000 request from Gustavus for funds to upgrade a playground has been approved by the law firm as qualified to receive the funds. Commissioners now must vote on whether they support the request.

Both Cantalamessa and Malloy said they like the concept of Bess Purpose Inc., but are requesting more information.

Malloy noted they have requests from longtime established organizations that also were not placed on the county’s yes list. Cantalamessa agreed to tour some of Bess Purpose Inc.’s sites and would like to speak to some of its clients.

At that point, he would provide information on what he saw to Malloy and Commissioner Niki Frenchko.

Frenchko, who was not at the commissioner workshop, texted Yoder that, based on the amount of money remaining, the commissioners should no longer take new applications for ARP grants.

However, Yoder reminded the commissioners that Tate’s request is not new.

Have an interesting news story? Contact Raymond Smith by email at rsmith@tribtoday.com. Follow us on X, formerly Twitter, @TribToday.


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