Interchurch Social Services History
Interchurch Social Services (ISS) was designed to meet a long-felt need in the community for a resource to turn to in all kinds of personal and family emergencies. ISS began with a gift of $ 1,000 from the Bexley Society, just before Bexley Hall left Gambier to join Colgate-Rochester Divinity School. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church provided office space and Mercy Hospital the first worker, Sister Ann Hinchon. The doors opened in 1968. Since then, ISS has provided emergency assistance and a Christian presence to thousands in need in the Knox County area.
In 1969, the ISS office moved into the Gay Street United Methodist Church. In 1981, the Mount Vernon office moved to 114 East Gambier Street. After searching many years for a location that would provide enough space for all Mount Vernon operations (thrift store, pantry, financial aid and management offices), a new facility was opened at 306 West Gambier Street in 2009. Branch offices were opened in Centerburg (1988), Fredericktown (1991), and Danville (1995). Today, an executive director and a staff of 15 lead ISS with the assistance of nearly 100 volunteers each week. A Board of Trustees governs ISS, with representatives from participating churches and community organizations.
Each branch operates with a separate budget to meet the needs in their community. Thrift shops operated by ISS serve a dual purpose - providing income for operations and clothing for our clients. Our food pantries provide 3 complete meals for 3 days. This service is available once every 30 days. Supplementing a family’s food budget may free-up cash to meet other needs. Financial aid (a maximum of $ 100) is available once every 6 months to assist with rent, deposits, or utilities. Turn the Tide, our annual Christmas campaign, includes four programs: holiday food baskets, Tree of Sharing, Adopt-a-Family, and Profile families. Through the generosity of the Knox County community nearly 600 families are assured a happy holiday! Other services include medical transportation, prescription assistance, Kiwanis “Coats for Kids”, advocacy, information and referral. All services are dependent on availability. Income guidelines do apply.
Our presence in the community has sensitized our friends, neighbors, coworkers and employers to the issues of poverty and provides a forum for their response. In 1984, an editorial in the Mount Vernon News asserted “Interchurch Social Services has done more to unite Knox Contains in serving humankind than any other agency.” That statement is as true today as it was 27 years ago.