Charity needs help to keep its doors open
LORAIN — Juan Pagan rubbed his hand against the freshly painted dresser.
His daughter could sure use it, he said with a smile.
“She’s 13, and she’ll love it. My 11-year-old will love that one,” he said, nodding toward another white dresser inside the nondescript warehouse off Colorado Avenue.
The dressers were free, and so were the mattresses, plush couch and ottoman that Pagan carted home. He has God and Pass It On Ministries to thank for it all, he said.
“There’s a lot of people who can use this,” he said. “It would be a shame if it wasn’t here.”
That might be a reality for the charitable organization, which was created in 2005 to offer donated furniture, toys and clothes to those in need in Northeast Ohio. Without some strong community support, the warehouse that currently houses the items might be sold, and the goods and services offered likely won’t be available. The owner of the warehouse has to sell it because of some financial problems, but he’s agreed to let the organization have it at the cost of the current mortgage.
That means the group has to raise $339,000 by Aug. 1, which is when another interested party wants to move in.
“We’re not naive. We know that’s a long shot, but we’re also looking at all our options,” said Kelly Melendez, Pass It On director.
The people Pass It On serves will suffer if the money or another facility can’t be found, Melendez said.
The number of people has grown from
332 when the warehouse opened to 1,200 this year, and it includes people all over the county, as far east as Westlake and as far west as Willard, where Melendez works as a pastor for Mount Sinai Multicultural Church.
And it will be people like Pagan, 34, who will be out of options.
“I’m a single father,” Pagan said while picking out his furniture Thursday morning. “I wouldn’t be able to give my kids what they deserve without this place.”
A Chicago native, Pagan moved to Lorain two weeks ago after losing his manufacturing job. He is recently divorced, and with two sisters in Lorain, he wanted a place to live where he’d have some help getting his family back on their feet.
He has custody of his kids, who are moving in with him next week, and he just spent what money he had left on a house.
It’s been making him sick knowing that he can’t afford to fill the house with beds, furniture or anything else that families are supposed to have, he said.
So he thanks God his sister told him about Pass It On Ministries.
Melendez said if he can’t raise the money, he’d like to get another building that’s around 24,000 square feet, which is the size of the warehouse he’s in now. All that space is needed as the warehouse is full.
“But I’ll take anything I can get,” he said.
Pass It On Ministries began in the basement of a woman’s Avon home. When her operation grew too large, Barbara Chase gave her group to Melendez, a Lorain resident, who decided move the items to the warehouse and join forces with a food pantry, Love Center Food Cupboard, to improve services to the needy.
People looking for services must go through an application process where Melendez inspects their homes to ensure they are truly in need. They have a policy that people have to pick up the items themselves, but volunteers who work there will help out if absolutely needed.
“We want to help people help themselves, we don’t just want to give things away,” he said.
But if they don’t have a building for the items, no one will get anything.
“I truly don’t know what will happen then,” Melendez said, shaking his head. “I guess will try to get rid of as much as possible, but then what?”
Contact Adam Wright at 329-7151 or firstname.lastname@example.org.