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The SAM Center is a community of believers who have come together to make a difference in the lives of our veterans and their life partners. We have grown through the community’s love and support.
When we first met in the fall of 2014, I had a hope and dream that we could bring the community’s love and support behind our local veterans. This booklet will tell you a little bit about what you have accomplished in 2017.
The USO of Northern Ohio was closing its Stark County facility, and the American Red Cross was transitioning their Service to Armed Forces program, so Stark County was losing vital programming for active military and veterans. We had the people and the faith to make an idea become a reality.
We started with about $25 in the bank. American Legion Post 221 had a facility and they agreed to let us use it at no cost. My family purchased and donated several cases of bulk food. It was a learning experience as a lot of the food was past the fresh-by date. That’s when Synchrony Financial stepped up with a massive drive to supply us with housing items and nonperishable food. It was incredible, and the start we needed. It was the community coming together.
When I look back on 2017, our second full year, I am amazed at how far the SAM Center has come. Our volunteer-led organization put in more than 8,000 hours. Our community has provided more than $170,000 in direct support and affected more than $1 million dollars in community benefit. We were able to assist more than 2,000 veterans, widows and service members.
Ohio Means Jobs took a vote throughout the state to determine who was helping veterans and deserved an award. Stark County came in first and the Vets ONE Incentive Award of $50,000 came to Stark, with the SAM Center receiving $40,000.
We are hopeful to continue our growth in 2018. The Stark County Veterans’ Stand Down will become the Serving Area Military Veterans’ Assistance and Resource Fair. The SAM Center will further our partnership with the Northeast Ohio Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical System as we seek to support veterans in Stark, Summit, Carroll, Portage, Wayne, Medina and Tuscarawas counties.
I am proud to share with you what the SAM Center accomplished this past year, thanks to your support. I am certain you will agree the SAM Center has been a good steward of your donations.
SAM Center president and founder
One of our most important services is to provide information on assistance programs. Through this service, we connect veterans with the benefits they have earned. This is why we consider our commissary and our other programs as outreach programs. Our primary intent is to provide veterans the resources they need to grow. Once the veteran is having their immediate needs met, we are able to provide them resources to hopefully provide permanent relief.
The first Thursday in November the SAM Center hosts an annual Veterans’ Resource and Assistance Fair at the Canton Civic Center. The inaugu¬ral event assisted 652 veterans and widows. We were able to help dozens register for VA health¬care and initiate compensation claims. The services include VA benefits, health insurance, hous¬ing assistance, drug and alcohol treatment, equestrian programs, therapy dogs and so much more. In one day, our partners pro¬vided more than $700,000 in economic benefit.
Thank you for being the difference in the lives of our veterans. The love you have shown our veterans is extraordinary. In 2018, we have several goals to enhance our ability to serve veterans in need.
Vehicle: The SAM Center has a tremen¬dous need for a transit vehicle, 15 passenger van or truck with a cap. With the ability to save thousands of dollars through the Akron Canton Regional Food Bank, the SAM Cen¬ter needs reliable transportation that is cov¬ered. We are hoping to raise $25,000 to purchase a vehicle. We would also be grateful for the donation of a reliable vehicle that can transport two pallets of food.
Seven Counties: In late 2017, we made the decision to expand services into seven counties: Stark, Summit, Portage, Wayne, Tuscarawas, Medina and Carroll. The Akron Veterans Affairs (VA) Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC) utilizes our lodging kits, emergency food bags and warming bags throughout their district. We are also taking on the mission of supplying food pantries at VA facilities in Parma and Youngstown. In Canton, we supply three-day emergency food bags. As resources permit, we will continue to look at ways to assist more veterans in need.
January - April: The first four months of the year are our leanest months for donations but are the months we see the most need. In addition to going through more than 4,000 pounds of food each month, our veterans need coats, heavy comforters and lodging kit items. Please consider supporting our mission in these first four months as they are the most difficult to meet our mission.
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An annual resource fair that provides our Heroes with a vast library of assistance in one location.Learn More