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'My heart was called to serve': Man who lives in poverty gives to those in need

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Posted at 5:51 PM, Aug 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-19 19:00:31-04

CLEVELAND — It’s not often you see someone in need providing assistance to others.

News 5 met a man who is working to restore dignity to all by giving away more than just food and toiletries.

He’s putting in long hours without pay, all in the name of making our area A Better Land.

In Ohio City, in the basement and on the doorsteps of a church is where all the magic happens.

It’s the home of Trials For Hope. Jonathan Gray founded the non-profit back in 2010, giving away trial-size toiletries.

“When I gave it out, my spirit felt like I was on to something,” says Gray.

It was an operation that started in his apartment and now takes over room after room of that church basement.

Gray has thought of everything: diapers, cleaning supplies, clothing, canned food, and fresh food.

He’s curated the items, realizing much of it is not covered by food stamps. Jonathan understands the need so well because he says, he too lives in poverty.

“When you’ve lived it the experience is different,” says Gray.

The Executive Director of Trials For Hope tells News 5 his income is subsidized, and despite the fact that he doesn’t drive, and is also battling complex PTSD, he’s able to run his non-profit with a budget of about $200,000 a year.

Gray tells News 5 he doesn’t pay himself for the work he does with the organization.

“My heart was called to serve," he said.

Once a week, Trials For Hope gets a delivery of perishable food items purchased from the food bank. Those items are donated to one of several organizations Trials For Hope supports.

News 5 was there as the residents of Clifton Plaza Apartments, subsidized housing for seniors, were given bags of food and cleaning supplies.

Resident Pamela Conley says it's like Christmas.

Terry Beckley has lived in the building for the last six years and Trials For Hope has been there the whole time, dropping off donations.

“Food is high everywhere that you go. So this is a big help to me,” said Beckley.

Beckley is just one of the hundreds of people the non-profit helps each month, including the homeless, shut-ins, and those with subsidized income.

“Our numbers of serving because of COVID have gone up from 5 to 600 to over a thousand,” says Gray.

Beckley says, “I feel very great that they can come here and help all the residents here cause a lot of us need help with food, security.”

Gray tells News 5 he needs help keeping up with demand.

He’s in need of volunteers and donations in order to help get more items to the people who need it.

To make a donation or find out how you can help, click here.

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