CLEVELAND — Tucked away inside the Cleveland Public Library's East 131st branch sits a safe space for teens filled with tools to build confidence, grab and go meals from the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and other essentials.
It’s called “The Resource Closet.”
“We serve about 80 children and teens,” said Marina Marquez, E. 131st Branch Manager. “Most of the students that we serve are they do have great needs… the families consist of, you know, four or more children per family. So there is a need for these supplies.”
As Janyece Belton explains, “Volun-Teens” like her help “give supplies to people who need it, like deodorant and paper towels and hygiene products, stuff like that.”
The program was created in partnership with MyCom, a network of agencies and programs providing services to the city's youth. With funding help from the Cleveland Foundation, other resource closets have been established in Glenville, Old Brooklyn Central East Cleveland, the West Park neighborhood and Garfield Heights.
“Each one of them is different. Some of them provide pre-packed bags for young people, so they will just come in and grab a bag. Others allow them to shop based on their needs,” said Beverly Burks with MyCom Cleveland. “Young people can come in and receive at no charge and that up to the age of 18.”
Burks says adding a resource closet to the Mount Pleasant neighborhood was a no-brainer as the number of families in need continues to grow during the pandemic.
“Each one of those are staffed by my account coordinators there in various locations and they are open one to two days a week in the afternoon after school,” she said.
The resource closets rely solely on donations so, individual and community partners are vital, especially when it comes to helping Cleveland students unable to access the resource closets.
“Some of the families they don't drive, so it's very difficult for them to pick up. So, the “Say Yes” coordinators have taken it upon themselves to actually pick up for them and then give it, bring it back to the schools to distribute to them,” said Marquez.
For more information and ways to donate to the “The Resource Center,” click here.