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Popular Cleveland east side food pantry finds itself in need of helping hand

Posted at 5:27 PM, Mar 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-22 12:15:39-04

It's a lifeline for those down on their luck but it's a place that offers so much more than a meal.

A community center on Cleveland's east side is giving people a second chance.

But the cost to help change lives is now adding up. Soon, the technology could ease that financial burden.

With an electric bill that continues to soar every month, volunteers at the Garden Valley Neighborhood House are looking to get off the grid. But plans to transition the 100-year old building to solar power just hit a costly snag.

Each month, on the corner of East 71st Street and Kinsman Road, dozens of volunteers fill shopping bags with food for about 15,000 people.

"Because we're here, we are helping a lot of people," said volunteer Cedric Redden.

A community kitchen also provides hot meals.

"The hook, we bring them in for the food," said Quinton Durham.

Once inside, many of them get connected with job training programs.

"Where we'll get them out of the food line, where they can be self-sufficient," said Durham.

Durham runs the construction lab at the Garden Valley Neighborhood House, which is fully supported by volunteers and donations.

In addition to teaching building and remodeling skills, classes in home health care are available.

It also gives young volunteers, like 12-year old Ramel Williams, a chance to connect with the community.

"It's something to do for most kids. It's something to keep me out of trouble," said Williams.

The Garden Valley neighborhood house is now facing trouble of its own.

"It costs a whole lot of money a month to keep the lights on here, said Durham."

Most months, the volunteers told News 5 they worry the electricity will be shut off because they can't find the money to pay the bill, which averages $1,800-$2,000 a month.

“It can be used a whole lot other ways than electrical bills if we were able to reduce it," said Redden.

The neighborhood house can tap into a grant to cover the cost of installing solar panels, but before that can happen, the century-old building needs an electrical wiring overhaul at a cost of $5,000.

“It's a lot of different programs that we can use the money toward," said Redden.

Right now, there is a crowdfunding campaign underway to cover the cost to rewire the building.

With only a few church donations to rely on, the staff is hoping the community steps up.

"When you give out good karma it comes back in some kind of way. It's still open, and we're still able to help the community and keep the lights on," said Redden.

The Garden Valley Neighborhood House has 55 more days to raise the $5,000 it needs.

Right now, the Cleveland Climate Action Fund will match donations made by March 31.

Click here to donate.