Proactive Urban Mission continues to serve

ACCOMMODATING THE SITUATION — The Rev. Ashley Steele, left, executive director of Urban Mission Ministries, and Amber Wade, the mission’s financial director, review a sign-in sheet to help patrons of the Fresh Market food pantry who either drive through or walk up to the warehouse at 311 N. Sixth St., Steubenville, where they are being handed pre-packaged bags of food. -- Janice Kiaski

STEUBENVILLE — Urban Mision Ministries is continuing to serve those in need while taking precautions because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

“At the Urban Mission, we’re following all the guidelines as suggested by Mid-Ohio Food Bank and also the Coalition on Housing and Homelessness so for the last several weeks we’ve been preparing ourselves for what might come, especially with our food pantry, shelters and Unity Kitchen, so we are just in the midst of still offering all our services, they’re just changed a little bit to accommodate the current situation,” explained the Rev. Ashley Steele, the mission’s executive director.

Steele stood outside the mission’s warehouse at 311 N. Sixth St. on Tuesday afternoon to direct clients on foot or in cars to the food pickup approach presently in place at what’s called the Fresh Market, formerly Client Choice Pantry.

For food assistance and weekly groceries for families currently registered with the pantry, all food distributed through the Fresh Market will be available in pre-packed bags to families through the back of the Urban Mission Warehouse. Upon arrival, every vehicle will be given a number and asked to park in an orderly fashion. A volunteer or staff member will conduct registration at the vehicle, and a pre-packaged bag will be delivered. “There is no need for you to get out of your vehicle as the food bag will be brought directly to you. Customers who visit the Fresh Market by foot also are encouraged to visit the back of the warehouse,” according to mission information.

Steele was donned in “a little different outfit,” wearing a safety vest and gloves that all mission staff and volunteers have if they need it, she explained, “and certainly those who are interacting with the public. We want to be good stewards of everything here and take care of our community as well, so we’re doing our part. We are stepping up our efforts.

“We’ve seen a lot more folks come through our pantry this month already. We’ve served more than a thousand families, and so it looks like we’ll double that before the end of the month,” Steele said. “We knew we would probably have a few more folks, and we’ve actually had a lot more already.”

Steele offered a health and safety update through the mission’s website, noting, “The health of our community, our customers, our staff and our volunteers is of the utmost importance to the Urban Mission. For the past several weeks we have been implementing new strategies, approaches and options in connecting our services to our neighbors during this public health threat.

“Out of an abundance of caution and in the interest of taking care of each other, the following information details how each of our ministries are currently functioning to proactively reduce the risk of community spread across our organization and network.”

They include:


Unity Kitchen, located at 301 N. Fifth St., is serving takeout meals for the community in place of the typical sit-down dining option. To-go meals will be served for anyone in need, from noon to 1 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays . For information, call (740) 282-8010.


In addition to assisting families registered, the Urban Mission Fresh Market is open to new families in need of food assistance “during this challenging time.” The mission’s service area covers Ohio and West Virginia residents. To sign up for assistance, visit the warehouse from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, (Wednesdays until 6 p.m.) to sign up for assistance. A form of ID and proof of residency will be needed, but no one will be turned away if in need of food. For information, call (740) 282-2911 or (740) 282-8010.


The Urban Mission Homeless Shelter system is available to receive men, women and children during this public emergency. The main shelter, located at 142 N. Sixth St., in downtown Steubenville, is open 24 hours a day. Guests will have access to clothes, showers, hot meals, toiletries and social service assistance. To call the shelter directly, use (740) 283-1621.

“Our shelter staff are practicing extreme care as it relates to sanitizing all services, sleeping areas and restrooms,” the newsletter notes. “We are receiving guidance from the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio and will continue to add additional precautions as necessary.”


Since Monday, Urban Thrift has been closed to the general public. “We can still accept donations, but may need to limit how we receive them in the coming days,” the newsletter reads. For updated information, call (740) 282-4851 or (740) 282-8010.


All non-emergency needs through the Fresh Start referral program will be on hold until Urban Thrift reopens. For clothing needs, contact Jodie Feezle, community engagement director, at (740) 282-8010.


Saturday evening Mission Rejoice worship services are currently on hold, but the Urban Mission team will be providing to-go meals every Saturday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the church, located at 301 N. Fifth St., Steubenville.


The mission has compiled a list of schools and organizations that are providing food for school-aged children. For an updated list, visit the mission’s website.


“In the coming weeks, we know that more community support will be needed, especially in two areas,” the news item notes.

“Volunteer help will be needed in our Unity Kitchen as we prepare more meals over the coming weeks when schools are closed. And, additional financial support also will be needed for the acquisition of more food. We also may need volunteers to help prepare pre-packaged bags with dairy, protein, produce, bread and shelf-stable food for distribution to customer vehicles in the coming weeks.”

To help, contact Tiffany Beckwith by phone at (740) 282-8010 or by e-mail to tbeckwith@urbanmission.org.

“We are so incredibly grateful for your engagement in this work and especially at this time, when more is expected of us. We are humbled to do this work and know that it would be impossible to do so without each of you,” Steele notes in the newsletter.


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