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ST. MARYS — On May 6, 2012, Joe and Bev Hurlburt put the first formal notes and ideas for what would become the Resources and Opportunity Center down on paper.
Their goal was to turn those ideas in to a reality by December 2013. They pulled it off almost a whole year ahead of schedule, opening at 702 E. Spring Street in St. Marys on Oct. 1, 2012.
“We’ve done a lot of training for mission work, and never found that right place to leave home and go to,” Bev Hurlburt said. “And then, all of a sudden, it dawned on us; why do we have to leave home? We can stay right here and be a part of the community.”
The ROC is a faith-based, though nondenominational, organization that has as its mission to “help people find resources for immediate relief while walking alongside them to find opportunities for future success,” Bev Hurlburt said.
Though it does not directly offer any tangible resources like food, housing, clothing or money to the people who walk through its doors, it works in conjunction with agencies that can offer such assistance.
“So when someone comes in, we look at the whole picture of their life and coordinate working through the problems,” Bev Hurlburt said.
Since opening, their dream has taken off with more momentum and speed than they envisioned for a new nonprofit business. The Hurlburts have already connected one young man with housing — he had been living in someone’s shed — and assisted three people in finding jobs.
One big project on the ROC’s horizon is “The House that God Built.”
In September, before the ROC had opened, a city engineer gave the couple a phone call, telling them about a man who lived in town whose house was going to be torn down for safety reasons.
The Hurlburts decided to head the construction of a new house for this man.
“We have a volunteer contractor who’s going to build the house and we’ll bring in volunteers for the interior,” Bev Hurlburt said.
The project will start as soon as the necessary funding is in place, but their sights are set on beginning sometime in 2013. Anyone can donate toward this project at Minster Bank in St. Marys.
“We’re hoping the community gets involved in this; that it’s something that can bring about a lot of community pride,” Joe Hurlburt said.
They talked with the man who lives there currently, and who would be homeless if it were to be demolished.
“We like to listen because you find out the whole picture in somebody’s life and what’s going on,” Bev Hurlburt said.
“So we just listened to what he was dealing with, and what he wanted — we asked him what his dream would be, what he thought he would want in the future.”
The Hurlburts successfully jumped the biggest hurdle in finding contractor Dan Dodds to volunteer to commandeer construction of the soon-to-be two-bedroom, one-bathroom house. Mike Makley will be the Volunteer Interior Manager.
Every Sunday night, the ROC holds “5 o’clock at the ROC,” where volunteers bring soups, desserts, and everyone there offers an open ear to anyone who wishes to attend and talk about what’s going on in their lives. Every month during which there is a fifth Sunday, “5 o’clock at the ROC” offers a pizza and game night. The ROC is always looking for volunteers for these events.
“The difference with us is we don’t stop with one problem being solved,” Bev Hurlburt said. “We help them find the solution to everything ... There’s an element of trying to figure out why you’re always asking for this help, why you need this, you know — do you need a better job, or a job.”
The ROC’s third partner Ginni Guarnieri is an accountant who helps with the finance and the budgeting process.
The Hurlburts hope to start many more projects through ROC in the future, including a community garden that would teach people how to grow and can their own food, and an organizational fair — where all representatives would be in one place, similar to a jobs fair.
They are currently in the planning stages of working in conjunction with the Family Life Center in St. Marys to offer a five-week long set of life skills classes that would teach people about job searching, the job application process, job interviews, budgeting, banking, insurance and other similar topics. The ROC will also work with the Auglaize County Probation Office, who will be able to refer some of their clients to these classes.
Their main goal for the ROC’s future is to gain more recognition and use among residents.
“Another one of our goals is that every individual who walks through these doors, no matter what their circumstances, no matter what problems they’re facing in life, we want to be able to walk alongside them, provide them the resources that will make them lead independent lives and successful lives, and not necessarily depend on the system,” Joe Hurlburt said.
“They can do it themselves, and by doing that they get a sense of pride, a sense of accomplishment and a sense of self-worth.”