Garrettsville – Hundreds of residents from the Garrettsville area and neighboring communities filled the home-side bleachers in the James A. Garfield gymnasium Monday evening in a unified show of support for those affected by Saturday’s devastating fire. The one question they all were asking: “What can we do to help?”
Local resident and former Portage County Commissioner Tommie Jo Marsilio had contacted Garrettsville Mayor Rick Patrick on Sunday with the idea of the community meeting. Patrick gave her the go-ahead thinking it was a good way to disseminate information for the business owners, the community and those just wanting to help in some way.
The meeting began with a welcome by Garfield schools superintendent Ted Lysiak and some opening remarks from Mayor Patrick and Marsilio. The business owners displaced by the fire were asked to come forward. They were immediately met with a standing ovation in a show of community support. ‘GARRETTSVILLESTRONG’ the mantra that began gathering momentum before the flames were extinguished was very evident.
Prior to Monday night’s meeting, the mayor asked the Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce to step in and be the administrator of any funds donated for the rebuilding effort and asked Chamber Secretary Michelle Zivoder to organize and lead fundraising activities. Several hundred people met with Zivoder after meeting in the gymnasium to offer their ideas and register their fundraising activities. The Chamber’s website, www.GarrettsvilleArea.com, has a list of sanctioned fundraising events and more information on what you can to do help.
After the community meeting, Marsilio met with the affected business owners in the school’s media center to help with any questions about insurance or rebuilding. A representative from Congressman David P. Joyce’s office as well as representatives from various county agencies were present to offer information on what services and aid are available for the rebuilding process.
Cleveland and Youngstown news stations as well as many area radio stations have broadcast stories about the local devastation and needs. The generosity has been overwhelming. The Nelson Garrettsville Community Cupboard has found a temporary location at 12157 SR 88 in Nelson Township. Donations of can goods, dry goods, money, office furniture & supplies, even freezers continue to pour in. The food cupboard has met with the business owners who, for many of them, lost their only source of income and has arranged to give them assistance as well.
The caring and generosity shown to the Garrettsville community has not only come from neighboring communities but from people around the state and the entire country.