The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 25, 2013

Volunteers hear ‘thanks’ as CHRC notches 35 years

Star Beacon

CONNEAUT —  Dozens of people who make the Conneaut Human Resources Center hum on a regular basis were given a verbal hug at a special Volunteer Recognition dinner this week.

The event also marked the 35th anniversary of the CHRC, which is home to a wide range of agencies and offices that provide assistance to residents. Created in 1978, the CHRC has been housed at 327 Mill St., since 1985. More than 2,000 people visit the CHRC each month, officials said.

More than 70 people attended the event, which featured a dinner catered by the American Legion Women’s Auxiliary, music by harpist Susan Krieg-Shugerts and an elaborate display of newspaper clippings depicting the CHRC’s history.

Nick Iarocci, CHRC board member, said the volunteers are simply invaluable. “We could not operate without our volunteers,” he said, citing their “selfless energy, intellect and devotion.”

Tim Kraus, a member of the organization’s first board of trustees, recalled the effort made to find a larger headquarters for the operation. An empty supermarket was the ideal location, but the owner was loathe to donate. It took Michael and Sulana Chait to work out a deal good for both sides, Kraus said.

The building itself needed lots of work, Kraus recalled. “Floors were slimy and there were dead animals (inside),” he said.

Years later, the ex-store has more than met the original board’s mission to “bring humanitarian services from the county level to Conneaut,” Kraus said.

“There are more services being offered here than we could have dreamed of,” he said. “It’s better than I could have anticipated.”

Nick Sanford, CHRC board president, said the organization has been a “beacon of hope for the community for the past 35 years,” with the goal to create an “atmosphere of education and social outreach.”

Sanford also accepted a proclamation from City Council, presented by Ward 2 Councilman Phil Garcia, that praised the CHRC for its “invaluable assistance and services to help in meeting the human social service needs of the community and its citizens.”

One of the premiere offerings at the CHRC is the Right Track after-school program for at-risk, elementary-age children. Gail Castrilla, who helped launch the nationally recognized program two decades ago, thanked the countless number of people who spent time with the students.

“These wonderful people shared whatever talent they had (with students),” Castrilla said. “I’m thrilled to think that 20 years later, Right Track is still here.”