A Lakewood Anchor Servicing Our Most Vulnerable Residents

Tess Neff, Lakewood City Councilwoman Ward 1

In 2019, I visited and toured Lakewood Community Services Center (LCSC) and afterwards I felt like I just visited with friends in their home. Recently, I spoke with Executive Director Trish Rooney who leads LCSC, a nonprofit organization in our city. Our conversation inspired me to write this article because Trish’s passion for our community’s vulnerable citizens is infectious. For 39 years LCSC has been supporting our residents during their most difficult times. Trish is supported by a dedicated staff, several of whom have been with the center for over ten years. Trish deflects all credit and accolades to her staff, volunteers, and community partners. She and her team are tireless advocates for the center’s clients. LCSC is like a one stop shop that prides itself on delivering personalized care. Think customer service at its finest.

Prior to the pandemic, LCSC provided emergency food during the weekdays and clients could walk in to the center for assistance. Their well-oiled machine had to abruptly shift gears when the COVID bomb hit. The walk-in food pantry closed for three days when the stay- at-home mandate was issued by the governor. No pandemic was going to prevent LCSC from doing its job. The center reopened as a drive-thru and walk-up delivery model. Trish said it was one of only a few food centers to be open in Cleveland, and the only one open five days a week, serving over 3,500 clients a month since July. This includes servicing 400 seniors who live in Lakewood and Rocky River. In September, the center became a 100% home delivery service to ensure clients could remain safely at home and continue to receive emergency food. This shift was particularly important to seniors, single moms and individuals with disabilities. Currently, the LCSC team is providing door-to-door food delivery to over 500 households twice each month during the pandemic.

LCSC is not just about feeding those in need. The center continuously works to keep individuals and families in their homes. Some of the services they provide include rental and utility assistance, homelessness prevention through case management, access to benefits, landlord negotiations, housing search and placement services, and short-term shelter services for Lakewood families who become homeless. A partnership formed in 2014 with Murtis Taylor has allowed the center to offer on-site mental and behavior health assistance quickly, if not immediately. This is critical when someone is facing a crisis. The list of support services is expansive. Equally important is the way the LCSC staff deliver the necessary services to clients. The LCSC standard is service with care, compassion, confidentiality, dignity and respect for all clients.

A large component of the center’s success is attributed to relationships. Trish and her team have fostered working partnerships with stakeholders in and outside of Lakewood to extend their service capacity. One vital partnership is with the private landlords and property management companies in Lakewood. For many years LCSC has been working with local landlords. The result has produced strong relationships that are built on trust, and together they have helped residents remain stably housed. The pandemic has tested the strength of the relationships and the bond remains robust. None of us want to think Lakewood has residents who are at risk of hunger and homelessness. Let us be proud and thankful for our community’s hidden jewel. To learn more about LCSC, how to volunteer or donate visit www.lcsclakewood.org.

Tess Neff is a 30-year Lakewood resident. She and her husband Rich raised their children here and both have worked in the community. She loves Lakewood and its uniqueness.

Tess Neff

I am a 30-year Lakewood resident. My husband Rich and I raised our children here and we both have worked in the community. I love Lakewood and its uniqueness.

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Volume 17, Issue 7, Posted 7:32 PM, 04.07.2021