Ohio Business Spotlight - June 2022
For the month of June, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is highlighting Ohio’s robust non-profit sector as part of his monthly Ohio Business Spotlight initiative. Just like standard businesses, non-profit organizations must register as a business or a 501(c)3 with the Secretary of State’s office. Non-profits in Ohio are critically important to the economic and social fabric of our state and work to improve the lives of our friends and neighbors within our communities. From educating the public on the history of their communities to providing veterans with food and a fresh start, the eight non-profit organizations recognized by Secretary LaRose in June do exceptional things day in and day out across the state.
Inspired by their Christian faith and the biblical story of Jesus feeding a crowd with just five loaves of bread and two fish, Cups Café was founded. They started with a simple mission – to provide a place where local youth can gather and enjoy a cup of coffee or some food without having a pay a cent.
The non-profit community café, a staple in Medina for over 14 years, gathers private food and monetary donations from the community and serves an average of 40-80 people each day. Cups Café also serves as a hub for organizations in the area, hosting local schools, churches, and other organizations.
Soon after becoming foster parents, Jill Kingston and her husband saw firsthand the effects of having a child born addicted to substances. After searching for solutions, Jill ran into roadblock after roadblock. She knew there had to be a better alternative – so she created one.
In 2017, Jill and her husband started Brigid’s Path, a center for substance-exposed infants to start on their journey to recovery and a good life with their families.
Brigid’s Path offers a variety of services to substance-exposed children and their families. They have nurses who are specifically trained to help infants who were born addicted to drugs, which helps reduce the time infants need to be in the hospital and can go home to their families. Through their unique services, last year over 81% of the substance-exposed babies were able to go home with their families and avoided having to enter the foster care system.
Adaptive Sports Ohio started after founder Lisa Followay’s son, Casey, who is physically disabled, had a strong interest in being an athlete. Casey fell in love with adaptive sports, and it changed his life forever. Lisa started Adaptive Sports Ohio to give children with physical disabilities the same opportunities as Casey to explore and enjoy sports.
This non-profit offers adaptive sports for all athletic interests, but Lisa is most proud of interscholastic Wheelchair basketball. This particular program teaches school districts how to include students with disabilities in school sports. Since starting this program, eight school districts have started to offer wheelchair basketball in their facilities.
Adaptive Sports Ohio also partners with several organizations across the state and country including Move United, the Ohio Department of Education, The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, and the National Youth Sports Strategy Champions.
In 2014, an opportunity arose for Bryan Bowman to utilize a facility donated by the American Legion Post 221, that would soon deliver Massillon community veterans with food, living assistance, and more. Serving Area Military or ‘SAM’ helps more than 10,000 veterans each year. In the last seven years, they have distributed over 890,000 pounds of food, served over 1,400 veteran families on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and have accumulated close to 40,000 volunteer hours in Summit County.
One of their holiday projects helps support veteran families in need by giving them a special Christmas experience. They ask the children for their wish lists and then donors purchase those items along with extra toys. When the family comes to pick up their gifts, they are presented at a table along with a Christmas tree and a family meal – all for free.
In SAM’s seven years, they’ve expanded to several branches of their non-profit organization to better serve the veterans in their community. Between food boxes, clothes, and mental health services, SAM is helping veterans across Ohio.
The Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation started back in 2005. Their dream was to make Van Wert an entertainment destination while bringing the community together by providing concerts and shows across the county.
Their project took off in 2007 with the opening of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.
They’ve since added two additional venues, and over their 15 years of operation, they have presented over 300 shows to over 300,000 guests. In a survey response, 97% of the guests said that their mood was better than when they originally came in, which quickly became Van Wert Live’s “Why” and purpose.
All of their show’s tickets are ‘family-friendly’ priced because of the local businesses who sponsor the shows and support Van Wert Live. They have over 150 volunteers who help each show go smoothly and provide all guests with a quality experience.
The Bowen House, built in 1831 in a historic neighborhood of Logan, has transformed into a non-profit center for cultural arts. The Bowen House has a goal of providing a diverse cultural education, positive social activities, all with a special commitment to historic preservation.
The Bowen House hosts recitals, plays, art exhibits, and various musical instrument lessons. Additionally, the house serves as an ideal location for weddings, bridal showers, and other events.
Mid-Ohio Food Collective was initiated in 1980 as the rise of hunger and food insecurity became an increasing issue in Ohio. MFOC started with local food drive and quickly grew as the organization saw a rise in donations which helped them increase their operations. Since starting, the MOFC went from distributing three million pounds of food to now 82 million pounds of food each year.
There are several different branches of the MFOC. Mid-Ohio Foodbank, Mid-Ohio Farm, Mid-Ohio Market, Mid-Ohio Farmacy, and Mid-Ohio Kitchen are the five assets that serve the different needs of the Central Ohio community.
Looking to the future, MFOC wants to expand its concepts to more neighborhoods, help educate more families and communities on how to grow fresh produce, and also enhance community engagement.
Inna Kinney immigrated to Columbus in 1974 from the former Soviet Union. Inna and her family went on to start a small business in central Ohio, giving her a front row seat to entrepreneurship. After witnessing firsthand the opportunities and the struggles behind starting a business, she was inspired to be an advisor for other entrepreneurs. That was the inspiration for starting ECDI (The Economic & Community Development Institute) in 2004. Inna’s goal is to help level the playing field for those who face systematic barriers in the process of starting a business. ECDI invests in individuals through business training, mentorship, and funding.
Since 2004, ECDI has granted $140 million in loans to small businesses, created 18,500 jobs, and served over 29,000 individuals through lending, organization, and incubation. Most of EDCI’s clients are Minority-Owned or Women-Owned businesses. They also help business owners who are new American citizens, veterans, and the Hispanic / Latino communities.
ECDI plans on having a new program that will benefit minority construction workers. This program will coach, contract, lend, and connect these entrepreneurs to help get a head start on their business.