When Jamie Baptiste set out to do a coat collection for Beatitude House in Youngstown, her goal was to donate some coats, hats, and mittens to ensure children who receive services there would stay warm this winter.
She was able to do that – and more.
Baptiste spearheaded a “Project Warmth” initiative to give back to the Valley. It started small, as she first placed a donation box at Dr. Anthony Lattanzio’s clinic at 20 Ohltown Road in Austintown where she works as an LPN. Dr. Lattanzio is a family medicine specialist who is a part of Steward Medical Group.
As word spread about the collection, boxes began to overflow with donations. The staff at Steward Health Care and Steward Medical Group, along with friends, family, and even patients joined in the charity drive, resulting in multiple large boxes of donations.
“We never expected to have such a wonderful outpouring of kindness from staff and the community,” Baptiste said. “I just wanted to make sure the children had warm hats and gloves for winter.”
Baptise, along with Cassandra Rohrman, medical assistant at Steward Health Center, Austintown, represented Steward Medical Group and Steward Health Care on Tuesday, Dec. 11 at Beatitude House to share these gifts. The donated boxes were filled with new and used clothes, and toys, including dolls, board games, stuffed animals, bingo sets, and cars.
“It got a lot bigger than we anticipated,” Baptiste said. “Whatever the Beatitude House could take, we were going to give them.”
Baptiste selected Beatitude House as the charity recipient as she had known of the organization and wanted to ensure they received some support. Beatitude House, provides housing and other support for disadvantaged women and children.
The donations will help tremendously, said Jessica Driscoll-Owens, communications and community relations coordinator at Beatitude House. At any given time, the Beatitude House assists approximately 47 families throughout the Mahoning and Ashtabula counties.
“We are so grateful that they chose us,” Driscoll-Owens said.
In addition to housing, Beatitude House has an Immigrant Outreach program that provides English as a Second Language lessons for women who are immigrants, along with child care to help the mothers who are taking the language course. Another program, Ursuline Sisters Scholars, aids women who are below the poverty level in furthering their education by providing mentorship and school-related financial assistance. Some women and children stay in housing provided by Beatitude House for a year or longer. They are usually homeless when they arrive there.
“Christmas is a really stressful time for them. Many are getting back on their feet and don’t have a lot of financial resources,” Driscoll-Owens said.
To help the women and children, Beatitude House asks them to make out holiday wish lists which the organization then works to fulfill and holds a “Santa’s Workshop” so the children can select gifts for their mothers.
“This drive is immensely helpful in contributing toward that,” she said.
The collection of gently used coats, as well as hats, gloves, and scarves included a touching donation. “We had a patient whose wife passed away and he brought all her clothes in,” Baptiste said. She is grateful to her colleagues at Steward Medical Group and Steward Health Care for their generosity.
“It’s been nice,” Baptiste said. “Little hands will be warm.”
Picture cutline: As part of a “Project Warmth” initiative, Steward Health Care and Steward Medical Group presented multiple boxes of donated clothes and toys to Beatitude House on Tuesday, Dec. 11. Pictured from left are Jamie Baptiste (LPN, Steward Health Center, Austintown), Jessica Driscoll-Owens, (communications and community relations coordinator, Beatitude House); and Cassandra Rohrman, (medical assistant, Steward Health Center, Austintown).