Helping those in need
Compassionate Connections serves Clintonville
By Bert Lehman
When Compassionate Connections opened in January 2021, its goal was to help those in the Clintonville community who needed help.
Hayden Wojnowiak, a student intern at Compassionate Connections, spoke about the program to the Clintonville City Council on May 10.
“This organization is comprised of community leaders, CEOs, teachers, advocates, and many more,” Wojnowiak said.
He said Compassionate Connections recognized a higher-than-average poverty rate in the community, and the organization partnered early on with the Clintonville Police Department, Clintonville Utilities, schools, churches and service organizations.
With the partnerships, Compassionate Connections is able to provide during financial, medical or emotional crises.
“We are here to fill the gaps for the people who are in need of them,” Wojnowiak said.
The program provides school-aged children with food and resources, helps kids going back to school by providing them with brand new clothes, Wojnowiak said. The organization also has a pantry for personal hygiene products and diapers. The pantry is located at the Compassionate Connections building on 10th Street in Clintonville.
Wojnowiak described the Car and Loan Repair Program, Emergency Relief Fund, and House Repair Program as the “backbone programs” of the organization.
He said the Car and Loan Repair Program helps individuals who need transportation, but can’t afford to be on the road. Funds from the program are paid directly to a certified mechanic.
“Individuals then receive a two-year payment plan that has zero percent interest,” he said. “This program provides up to $1,000.”
The Emergency Relief Fund is designed for financially burdened individuals seeking assistance for emergency related expenses, Wojnowiak said.
Expenses include rent, medical and utility expenses. The program provides individuals with up to $300.
The Housing Repair Program involves repairs related to health, safety and accessibility. This program provides up to $2,000.
Wojnowiak said that individuals get to use each program “once in a lifetime.”
“You don’t see anybody walking out of a non-profit organization with a check or money, these payments go directly to a landlord or the mechanic,” Wojnowiak said.
The Car and Loan Repair Program and Emergency Relief Fund have been “heavily utilized,” he said.
In just over a year, 27 people have used the Car and Loan Repair Program, and 56 people have used the Emergency Relief Fund.
“These numbers represent only the people that were income qualified for these programs,” Wojnowiak said. “So, when we’re looking at people that just applied for these programs in general, we’re probably looking at double the size in numbers here.”
Compassionate Connections also offers The Nutrition Mission program.
“Nutrition Mission is a weekend backpack program designed for vulnerable students in the Clintonville School District,” Wojnowiak said.
The Nutrition Mission program serves students ages 1-18. It serves more than 250 students each academic week. Students enrolled in the program receive breakfast, lunch, and snack items to take home with them at the end of each academic week.
“A recent evaluation showed 91% of students reported being satisfied or very satisfied with the food provided by our program,” Wojnowiak said.
Compassionate Connections also provides a New Day Clothing Resource in space at the United Methodist Church for children in the Clintonville School District.
“Right before the beginning of the new school year, students in the Clintonville School District now have the chance and the opportunity to choose from a variety of brand-new clothes, shoes and undergarments,” he said. “A voucher program with local business B & H (Footwear) provided us shoes for over 60 pairs of brand-new shoes. A group of local hair stylists also came together and provided free haircuts around this time, the beginning of the school year.”
Concluding his presentation, Wojnowiak said, “When you think of this non-profit organization, it really is a community investment,” adding, “This is a service, by the people, for the people.”