BY D’ARCY EGAN
The Leadership Ottawa County program, which began teaching leadership skills with a focus on beneficial community projects in 2000, is at it again. The 2018-2019 class is working to convert an old Port Clinton church into the new location for the Ottawa County Family Advocacy Center.
The renovations will allow the Family Advocacy Center to host community groups and social organizations in its new location at 570 S. McKinley Dr., just southwest of Port Clinton High School’s Bassett’s Field at True Lay Stadium on Fremont Road.
“Each of the Leadership Ottawa County annual classes has been charged with learning leadership skills and more about the infrastructure of Ottawa County,” said Sandye Ostheimer, one of 16 class members. “My classmates and I have really enjoyed interactions with other class members, and and we have worked long and hard to define our class project.”
The class knew it would be difficult to match last year’s project, said Ostheimer, an administrative assistant for the City of Port Clinton. That class helped establish the Light House Sober Living House for Women in Port Clinton, which is now up and running, a companion to the Lighthouse Sober Living House for Men.
LOC projects are designed to fill a community need. The Joyful Connections project in 2007 created a supervised visitation and exchange center in Oak Harbor that still successfully brings together children, parents and grandparents. It provides a safe, secure, and home-like environment where children’s visits with a non-custodial parent are supervised. Children can visit without fear or threat of violence and where children can be exchanged for visitation in a supervised setting without conflict and physical abuse between parents.
“We’ve got a lot of volunteer work to do to make the old church into a quality community center, which will require some serious fundraising,” said Diane Belden of Catawba Island. “We’re planning one whale of an Indoor Rummage Sale Fundraiser on March 9 from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. at Trinity United Methodists Church, 135 Adams St., Port Clinton.”
The class will be accepting donations for the rummage sale from Feb. 22-March 5, and want to make it a memorable event.
“We’ve already accepted a donation of all the quality furniture and appliances from a house that’s being sold,” said Belden. “We’re also looking for gently-used toys, furniture, kitchen and housewares, holiday decor, books and clothing, as well as sports and outdoor equipment.”
For more information or to schedule donation drop-off times, email:firstname.lastname@example.org. A major scheduled drop-off will be March 2 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Trinity Methodist Church.
Leadership Ottawa Country has also been crafted to develop, strengthen and enrich effective leaders within Ottawa County. LOC strives to increase participants knowledge of the diverse areas of interest across the county. Experiential training is provided to each class to sharpen their knowledge of Ottawa County and its business operations and become more involved in the community.
Executive Director Connie Cornett of the Ottawa County Family Advocacy Center will move her offices from the Sutton Center to the building once it is renovated. The building once housed the Rebirth Community Church.
“The center is still in the planning stages, including the naming rights,” said Belden. “We would like to renovate the space to create rooms where children and families could spend time, learn new skills and have a safe place for recreation.
“We envision pool tables, a library space, a small stage for kids to perform and comfortable furniture for relaxing.”
The Ottawa County Family Advocacy Center works to stabilize families around the county be helping them navigate legal, social and educational systems. Its programs range from CASA, which recruits and trains volunteers to become court advocates for children involved in abuse and neglect cases; TICKET to Success, training of living skills for teens; TNT Mentoring, to provide one-on-one student mentoring; and GRAND Love, designed to help grandparents take custody of grandchildren.
Leadership Ottawa County and its team of volunteers are renovating the Rebirth Community Church, converting it into the new home of the Ottawa County Family Advocacy Center. Helping volunteer craftsman Gary Barnhill rehabilitate the building this week were, left to right, Leadership Ottawa County 2018-2019 members Sandye Ostheimer, Jane Taylor, Dakota Harkins, Diane Belden and Emily Messino. (Photo by D’Arcy Egan)