On Decemeber15th, Glenn will be performing “America’s First Christmas” from the Murphy Theater in Wilmington, OH, where Glenn will bring us back to the true meaning of Christmas as he encourages us to start over, reset our priorities, and reconnect with what is important. Before joining Glenn, we invite you to get to know the people of Wilmington and the businesses of the local community. Each day before “America’s First Christmas”, we will be profiling a different person or business from the Wilmington community.
Clinton County Services for Homeless, Inc.
Denise Stryker never thought a rural area like Clinton County, home of Wilmington, OH, could be deeply affected by homelessness. But after a trip with her family to Los Angeles where she saw many people living out on the streets, Denise returned home and researched the problem in her own area. “[The trip to Los Angeles] really pulled at my heart strings and I said a prayer that some day that I would be able to help somebody permanently that was in that situation.”
Ever since the DHL plant closed in Wilmington, Denise has noticed an increase in the number of people needing services for homelessness. “We used to have an average of about eight to ten people a night when I first started abut seventeen years ago,” she said, “We’re seeing an average of up to twenty-seven people a night now and we’re often at capacity, which is thirty-four.”
More and more people are needing some kind of assistance, but Denise maintains a positive outlook. She said that the community has a pay-it-forward attitude, and many people who have passed through the housing facilities return to volunteer in various projects and fundraising campaigns.
Denise hopes others recognize how easily a person can end up in need of programs like those offered by Clinton County Services for Homeless, Inc. “I would just encourage you to open your heart and your minds and know it can happen to any of us. And without a support system of some kind and having a higher power, having that faith fou need, you never know what can happen, and just try to believe that there are people that need help and continue to pray and support them.”
Every year, former residents come back and celebrate Christmas at the residence. Denise said, “We encourage them to come and just eat with us and share how their lives are changed after being here and catch up.” The tradition allows the former residents to share with the staff and current residents their stories of recovery and getting back on their feet.
Books ‘N’ More
Owner, Books ‘N’ More
This Wednesday, Glenn will be signing books at 1pm from Books ‘N’ More in Wilmington, OH as part of “America’s First Christmas”. The owner of the bookstore, Dan Stewart, is a local entrepreneur familiar with concepts of hard work and sacrifice.
Dan founded the bookstore while still an employee at General Motors, and he has worked several jobs in Wilmington since he retired in addition to running the bookstore. Dan says he doesn’t believe people should be picky about what job they take. “You take what’s available,” he said.
“There are jobs you can find. And if you have to work two or three of them to make what you would make with one good paying job, it’s just an extra sacrifice you have to make. And I’d much rather do that than accept handouts from people. And I just feel that, you know, anybody that really wants to succeed, there’s ways to do it.”
Books ‘N’ More has not been spared by the recession, and Dan has found ways to help out other local businesses while supplementing his own income. The owner of the local consignment shop, Next to New, also has a second job, so Dan helps maintain her store so she can work her side job and he can make some additional money to offset reduced sales at the bookstore.
Dan also supports Wilmington’s “Buy Local” campaigns and tries to keep the money he spends in the community. “We’re here to support the community. And the support we get from the community goes back into the community.”
General Denver Hotel
Ms. Molly Dullea
Owner, General Denver Hotel
Molly Dullea owns the beautiful General Denver Hotel in Wilmington, OH. A relative newcomer to the Wilmington area, she purchased the hotel seven years ago. “It’s a beautiful piece of architecture and I don’t really know why I bought the hotel. I just knew that when I came inside, I felt at home and I stayed.”
Wilmington was hit pretty hard by the loss of the DHL hub where many of the town’s residents worked. Molly said, “It was devastating, 8,000 jobs were lost. We’re a town of only 12,000 approximately.” She added, “It affected every single person here and it was literally an economic tsunami.”
Nevertheless, Molly said that the entrepreneurial spirit in the town remains strong and people are constantly finding ways to support the town and each other. “You have smart, intelligent, caring people. You have great ideas, [we] just do them. We have great campaigns. We have ‘Grow Food, Grow Hope’ for growing our own food.” She continued, “We are creating things. We are not waiting for someone to come save us, we are going to save ourselves and we are going to do it together.”
“It could’ve been a sob story,” Molly explained. “But do I wish it didn’t happen? No. Did it restore my faith and what I knew all my life was right? Yes.”
Molly hopes others can learn from the people of Wilmington. “I hope they learn to stand on their own two feet, to work hard, to be nice and to take care of each other and to value what’s really important. Which isn’t the number of things that you have or the stuff that you collect, but what you really keep in your heart and that you have a great place to do it in,” she said.
Molly has been deeply affected by the strength of character the people of Wilmington have and how supportive community members are of one another. She said, “That’s what blows me away, it’s that I found Wilmington, Ohio and I get to live here.”
Mr. Jeff Tewksbury
Assistant Director and Director of Music at Sugartree Ministry
Faith can be a powerful driving force in anyone’s life, but the power of faith has had a distinct impact on the town of Wilmington through Sugartree Ministry. Jeff Tewsksbury’s life had been profoundly affected by the Sugartree Ministry and the power of faith. A recovering alcoholic and addict, Jeff was living from couch-to-couch when he befriended youths from a Sugartree bible study. They helped him through a period of intense detoxing, but ultimately he got clean and reconnected with his girlfriend at the time, now his wife, and their baby daughter.
“You can’t be involved in this ministry and not experience the power of God,” Jeff said of Sugartree. “Sugartree’s impact on Wilmington, you know -- and I want to say this as humble as I can, but I don’t know where Wilmington would be right now without Sugartree. The way God has poured out food, finances and the way that we’re able to transform that into meeting tangible needs of people to have them.”
Jeff said that Sugartree Ministry allows people to get out of there house so they aren’t just sitting at home thinking about their situation. They have somewhere to go and not only a hot meal, but they get fellowship.
“The people that come are our family. And they’re not just our family. They’re family to each other.”
“The way Sugartree impacted me, there’s lots of little, some tangible, some not so tangible things. But it all boils down to love, you know. You walk in here, you are loved.”
Sugartree is a Christian street ministry dedicated to serving the poor, sick, addicted, homeless and unemployed. Not one to turn anyone in need away, Sugartree finds themselves serving 150 people daily and going through 2,000 non-perishables a week. If you would like to support Sugartree please donate online or send a Kroger Grocery gift card to:
PO Box 606
Wilmington, OH 45177
While donations of non-perishable dry goods are always welcomed, the Sugartree has limited storage space. By donating a gift card, Sugartree is able to make the most of your donation by purchasing food when needed and not letting anything go to waste. To learn more about Sugartree Ministries visit, www.sugartree.org.