BY D’ARCY EGAN
Joyful Connections, which brings troubled Ottawa County parents and children together for supervised visits, has expanded its mission with new facilities in Oak Harbor. The social agency didn’t have to go very far, taking over a more spacious part of its building at 8200 W. St. Rt. 163, Oak Harbor.
“The much larger space has been beautifully renovated, giving us more opportunities to serve the community and allowing us to expand our scheduling,” said Executive Director Shanna Strouse. The agency had been limited by the cramped space of its former facility.
“We have just about doubled our space, which will allow larger families to visit, and more of them,” said Strouse. “In the past, we could accommodate only one large family of five or six people. Now, we can schedule up to four families of various sizes at one time, which really opens up our ability to schedule families.”
Joyful Connections was created by the Leadership Ottawa County Class of 2007, and is in its 11th year of helping families. Strouse and Program Manager Tami Matthews, with a vibrant group of volunteers, has been praised for their work with families.
The new space is brighter and cheerier, and the recent ribbon cutting for the grand re-opening of Joyful Connections on Feb. 4 resulted in a flash crowd of volunteers, legislators, social workers and members of the community.
‘We’re a very lucky to be in a county where so many people want to give back to their communities,” said Strouse.
Joyful Connection is also fortunate to have the support of Ottawa County commissioners, who were leaders in the renovation of the new spaces by donating manpower from the county maintenance staff. The county crews were led by Randy Cook in building new walls, fresh paint and lighting. Community members also donated 450 voluntary hours to help complete the renovations.
Most of the family get-togethers are mandated by the Job and Family Services agency or the county’s Juvenile Court, Court of Domestic Relations and Common Pleas Court. The homelike conditions of the new space — with a variety of appliances, such as full kitchenette and visitation rooms with games, toys and crafts — have been more welcoming for family visits.
To become a volunteer with Joyful Connections or to make a donation, call 567-262-3181 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.