Emergency Assistance Center opens in new location

by Michele Collins

The Emergency Assistance Center of Northfield Center opened in a new location on Feb. 5, but its mission remains the same: help those who are struggling with food insecurity.

The center’s new address is 9433 Olde 8 Rd., Suite B, just down the street from its original location. It serves an average of 708 customers per month, according to Executive Director Joyce Hunt.

It was founded in 1992 by a single mother of four who was struggling to feed her family and who knew other families in the area were dealing with similar circumstances. The center has since grown and recently reached 30 years of service.

Hunt said the nonprofit didn’t have the chance to formally celebrate this milestone due to an “increase in service numbers” and the news that the landlord wanted to sell the building the center previously leased. The center was closed during the month of January to move to its new home.

TEAC’s food donations come from a variety of sources, including the Akron Canton Regional Food Bank, Walmart, Starbucks, Gordon Food Service, T Cakes, local gardeners and area farmers.

“In addition to providing nonperishable food items and frozen meats such as ground beef and chicken, we also provide sliced bread, bakery items, eggs, milk, margarine and an array of fresh produce,” said Hunt.

TEAC also purchases food and hygiene items weekly through various retail stores.

“We have expanded hygiene items to include such things as laundry detergent, paper towels, toilet paper and dishwashing liquid. This is in addition to shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant and body wash,” said Hunt. “TEAC has continued to provide feminine hygiene items, baby wipes and diapers as well as baby food and formula.”

Outside of food and hygiene products, TEAC offers services from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Veterans Affairs and Portage Path Behavioral Health associates to aid with job placement, mental health assistance and counseling.

“Appointments are open to all Summit County residents, not just TEAC clients,” said Hunt.

People can contact the center for specific dates and times for these services.

With the help of local veterinarians and the Summit County Humane Society, TEAC even helps families’ pets by offering cat and dog food.

TEAC’s service area includes twelve communities: Northfield, Northfield Village, Sagamore Hills, Macedonia, Twinsburg, Twinsburg Township, Reminderville, Richfield, Richfield Township, Village of Peninsula, Hudson and Boston Heights.

“We, however, will serve anyone on a one-time basis and will provide information on additional resources that are available in their own local neighborhood,” she said.

TEAC is open five days, forty hours per week. It is an accredited charity with the Better Business Bureau and received the Guidestar Platinum Seal of Transparency.

Going forward, Hunt said the center wants to improve and expand its services. A recent donation of a cargo van allows volunteers to deliver food to shut-ins and low-income seniors living in a senior highrise apartment in Twinsburg, Hunt said.

The Emergency Assistance Center qualifies clients using a Federal and State Funded Food Programs Eligibility Form from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.

“With more and more business closures and layoffs, we know there are more people we can help,” said Hunt.

Hunt, who will mark her 12th year as executive director this July, said she believes her work with TEAC is more of a calling than a job.

“I had always had a desire to work with nonprofits and did so for most of my career. When I saw the ad in the paper for this position at TEAC, I knew that is where I wanted and needed to be,” she said. “It has been pure joy to watch the growth and to see lives changed for the better because of what we do. We are … so thankful for the time and talent of our incredibly devoted crew of volunteers, the caring and compassionate staff members and the capable leadership of our board of directors, and the unending financial and material support of our amazingly generous community.”

To volunteer at TEAC, contact 330-467-7945. For those in need of its services, visit teacenter.org. ∞

Photo: Refrigerators and freezers line the walls of one room of the center’s new location. Photo courtesy of Joyce Hunt.