Program assists the less fortunate, those on the streets

FRIENDSHIP ROOM — The Friendship Room banquet at the commons area of Steubenville High School was filled with accounts of how Molly and Bill McGovern and the help of countless others are working to build relationships with the less fortunate and build up their self-esteem. Participating in the event were, from left, Bishop Jermaine Moore of Mount Zion Baptist Church; Ted Gorman, high school principal; City Councilmember at Large Kimberly Hahn; Elizabeth DiGregory, volunteer; John Young, Monsignor William Cornelius Humanitarian Award recipient; City Mayor Jerry Barilla; Jefferson County Commissioner Tom Gentile, who served as emcee; Molly McGovern; and the Rev. Nicholas Halkias of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, keynote speaker. -- Mark law

STEUBENVILLE — Hundreds of people gathered Sunday evening at the commons area of Steubenville High School to reflect on the work of the Friendship Room in helping those living on the streets and to raise money to continue its mission.

The Friendship Room is a house of hospitality providing help to the those less fortunate and living on the streets by giving them a cup of coffee and talk, meals, a place to laugh and cry and help in giving them the self-dignity to rise above the life they are currently living.

Molly and Bill McGovern started the Friendship Room four years ago and now operate two other shelters in the downtown area.

“How can you change your life when you are spiraling downward in an avalanche,” asked the Rev. Nicholas Halkias of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, the keynote speaker for the event.

“It takes caring, understanding and engagement to get to a person’s heart. No matter what help you get from the Friendship Room –though it may not be the help you want or think you need — you get help,” he said.

“The Friendship Room offers a brief respite so they can be reminded self-worth is valued. We need the Friendship Room and many more if we can change the lives of the city,” he said.

McGovern looked around the room, and without identifying anyone, noted the work so many people do in helping the Friendship Room.

“They give countless hours to serve the poor,” she said.

McGovern admitted she and others don’t have all the answers to help those in need.

McGovern said her and her husband are just one piece of the puzzle and everyone else has a piece to make up the whole puzzle.

She said some in the community give money, Some give time. Some make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches everyday, she said, referring to the 50 sandwiches handed out every night.

“We want see a long-term transformation in people’s lives,” she said.

She said the county needs an inhouse drug treatment center to help those addicted.

“Our goal is not to be needed in downtown Steubenville. We are trying to help restore dignity through practical, viable and life-changing solutions,” she said.

The Rev. Jason Elliott of First West Minster Presbyterian Church said Steubenville is blessed to have outstanding community partners who are connected with the goal of helping others.

Elizabeth DiGregory of DiGregory’s Landscaping and Greenhouse made the plea for donations to help operate and continue the mission of the Friendship Room.

She said she was shocked and confused when she find out about the lives of the people served by the Friendship Room. She said the McGoverns are making an impact on so many lives by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and building relationships with those who need it most.

“We need to take back our community and step up to help,” she said.

The first Monsignor William Cornelius Humanitarian Award was presented to retired Steubenville Police Department Capt. John Young, who was known for helping so many in the community who needed it most by talking to them while walking the beat in downtown Steubenville or talking to them outside Municipal Court.

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