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Mount Vernon, Knox County, Ohio

Local Government

Winter Sanctuary homeless shelter offering volunteer training


MOUNT VERNON -- When Lisa Cook brought some food to the Winter Sanctuary homeless shelter last fall, and saw how appreciated it was, it wasn’t long before she became hooked on volunteering there. The Mount Vernon resident initially took a volunteer position covering a weekly three-hour shift overseeing guests. Finding that fulfilling, she accepted a larger role in which she shares oversight duties 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. weekends in a paid position supported by an Ariel Foundation grant.
Volunteer Coordinator Mollie West says volunteers are the backbone of the shelter.

“Without them we cannot even be open,” she said. “They provide support and safety. Even though it isn’t a difficult job, it’s an important job. We need to have a volunteer there to make sure guests are doing fine and following the rules.”

The homeless shelter, located at 401 W. Vine St., operates Nov. 1- April 1. There are three shifts for each side (men’s and women’s): 6:30 p.m.-10 p.m.; 10 p.m.-6 a.m.; and 6 a.m.-9 a.m. Volunteers can take shifts on a weekly, every-other-week, or monthly basis, or serve as substitutes.
Volunteers oversee guests during their stay and take any actions necessary to ensure their safety and well-being. They communicate with shelter staff and other volunteers when necessary and may also assist in screening new guests. While no specific skills are required, volunteers must be able to engage with guests in a non-judgmental, affirming way.

Cook, who has five children and two grandchildren, has volunteered in other capacities, in a jail ministry in another community, and now locally for her church, Lifepoint Church in Mount Vernon, where she serves on a team that welcomes guests.
“I like serving and volunteering.,” she said. “It makes me happy.”

Training for volunteers will be 6-7 p.m. Oct. 5 and 9-10 a.m. Oct. 14 in the AV Multimedia Room at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County. Anyone interested in volunteering is encouraged to attend.

For more information, contact the homeless shelter at (740) 392-9277. Email: [email protected] Applicants must undergo a background check.


Survey says public transportation plays major role in accessing healthcare

MOUNT VERNON - The importance of public transportation and its role in helping people access healthcare were identified as the key results in a recent survey of nearly 300 Knox County residents. The survey was conducted by the Knox County Health Department as part of the Maternal Child Health Program (MCHP) grant from the Ohio Department of Health and involved maternal-aged women age and children, up to 21 years of age.

Survey respondents without access to a vehicle for transportation indicated that they typically depend on public transportation as their method of getting to and from a healthcare provider. Lack of money to either purchase a vehicle or to purchase gas were identified among the top reasons for not having a means of transportation. Regardless of where survey respondents lived, they identified Mount Vernon as the most difficult destination to get to or to navigate due to size of the city and variety of healthcare locations

In addition to the survey, the health department collaborated with several community partners to address transportation issues and the effects on access to healthcare. Studies indicate that the lack of transportation can directly lead to negative impacts on local residents, particularly when it concerns health. The lack of affordable and reliable transportation options can lead to missed appointments and ignoring health issues until an emergency arises. Studies show this problem affects residents of all ages but disproportionally impacts older, disabled, poor and rural residents.

In addition to the health department, community partners involved in the transportation project include: Knox Area Transit, Interchurch Social Services, Knox Community Hospital, Knox County Dental, Starting Point, WIC and Knox County Job & Family Services. As a result of the collaboration, a Knox County Transportation Resource Guide has been compiled listing all of the local transportation options including contact phone numbers and participation costs.

The Knox County Transportation Resource Guide will be shared with local healthcare providers and social service agencies to help inform residents of the available transportation resources.

For more information on the transportation project or to get involved, please contact Alayna Anderson, health educator at the Knox County Health Department, at 740-392-2200 ext. 2232 or [email protected]


Simulation enables look at poverty from a variety of angles


MOUNT VERNON - Poverty and hunger often lead to increased emotional and financial stress, increased risk of illness, poor school performance in children, poor productivity on the job, and the cycle of struggling can seem unbearable.

United Way of Knox County envisions a community where all individuals and families achieve their human potential through education, income stability and healthy lives. Imagine a world that fosters hope and opportunity for everyone where all children receive a quality education, the cycle of poverty and financial dependence ends, and everyone receives effective health care. Poverty Simulation enables participants to look at poverty from a variety of angles and then recognize and discuss the potential for change within the community.

How will I pay for gas to get to work? Can I afford the prescription I need and have enough money this month to feed my children? My rent is due and so is my childcare - will I be evicted? During a Poverty Simulation, participants assume the roles of families facing challenging but typical day-to-day circumstances faced by families and individuals every day in Knox County.

Residents are invited to join the growing number of community members, service providers, clergy, educators, elected officials and community leaders who have had a unique and enlightening experience by attending United Way's Poverty Simulation on Thursday, October 19, 2017. Registration begins at 1:45 p.m. and the Simulation is schueduled from 2:00-4:30 p.m.

The event will be held at First Church of the Nazarene at 807 Coshocton Road, Mount Vernon in the lower level of the Family Learning Center Gymnasium. Signs will be posted.

Register before 10/13 to [email protected] or call 740-397-5721.


Tai Chi Workshop, Classes offered by KCH

MOUNT VERNON - Fall is the perfect time to take advantage of the opportunity to experience the benefits of Tai Chi. The slow, synchronized movements of Tai Chi put minimal stress on muscles and joints, making it generally safe for all ages and fitness levels. It is easy to learn and use, whether you can stand or sit. Perfect for people with arthritis, the benefits of the class may include reduced pain and stiffness, improved ability to cope with stress and depression, improved muscle strength and stamina as well as improved posture and increased circulation, heart and lung function.

A new Level One workshop begins on Tuesday, October 10 and will meet every Tuesday for 7 weeks at 1:15 pm.

Level Two class starts on Thursday, October 13, and will meet every Thursday at 1:15 pm. This is an ongoing class.

Both classes will be held in the aerobics room at the Center for Rehabilitation and Wellness, 1375 Yauger Road. If interested, call 740 393 9875 to reserve a spot!

Mavis asks owner for timeline to fix up old middle school property

MOUNT VERNON — Mayor Richard Mavis informed city council members on Friday that he was in touch twice this week with the owner of the old middle school on North Mulberry Street.

In the first communication with owner Jason Gunsorek, Mavis asked for a timeline within 30 days for the redevelopment of the school; he also asked for a set of plans within 60 days. Gunsorek responded, and a meeting is set for Oct. 18 to discuss the project.

In a second communication sent Thursday, Mavis told Gunsorek that security on the property is nonexistent, vandalism occurs on a nightly basis and the 4 p.m. to midnight shift at the police department receives frequent calls about the property. Mavis told Gunsorek that the city cannot, and should not, be responsible for full-time security. Gunsorek responded that he would visit the property and determine what needs to be done to set up proper security.

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