Helping Regain Stability
Anyone who comes to the Healing Center has the opportunity to seek help with whatever is going on in his or her life.
As a not-for-profit organization, the Healing Center provides assistance regardless of economic circumstances, race, ethnicity, or religious affiliation. Those in need can receive help with everything from family or relationship crises to emergency food and clothing to tutoring in preparation for High School Equivalency tests, financial coaching and job searches.
Many of our neighbors return on multiple occasions and receive help over an extended period of time while regaining stability.
An in-depth assessment interview helps determine an individual’s or family’s needs and leads to either direct assistance or referral through the Healing Center’s connections to an extensive network of community resources.
Families also are referred to the Healing Center by collaborating social service agencies.
A Safe Place
Regardless of the need, each person who crosses the threshold of the Healing Center is assured of a welcome and loving response, in keeping with the vision of a community where people receive unconditional love, healing and the power to change.
Here we find a safe place to receive transformational healing for every need whether physical, emotional, spiritual or relational.
The Healing Center strives to meet the needs of all guests holistically. For example, while individuals struggling financially will receive help with immediate and basic needs, they also are equipped with skills necessary to break the cycle of poverty.
While we are able to respond to people’s immediate needs for food, clothing, and emergency assistance, we work with each individual to identify additional areas of support or development to build self-sufficiency.
Watch this video to learn more about how The Healing Center got started.
Christmas Eve Morning
"We were changed way more than anyone we served that day." — Jim Cochran
On Christmas Eve morning in 1984, we gathered some donated Christmas trees, picked up a few groceries, and headed to inner city Hamilton.
We literally asked the dumb question to some folks, "Are there any poor people around here?" It was minus 12 degrees, and we met one kid with sneakers barely holding together from the huge holes.
He led us to a back-alley "home" that was more of a shack, and inside was a single mom trying to keep her family warm with flames shooting up from the stove and cardboard piled all around.
We gave our stuff away, prayed for some folks, and thought, "Maybe this shouldn't be just
a Christmas thing.” Regular Saturday outreaches began after that, and God continued
to shape us.
Bus Ministry Begins
"By demonstrating God’s love in the physical (giving them free groceries), people were more open to the spiritual (letting us pray with them)." — Larry Harmon
Twice a month we’d drive an old school bus to various locations, knock on doors, and invite people to come to the bus for free groceries and clothing. We’d then ask people if we could pray with them for anything and carry the groceries back to their homes for them.
Food & Clothing Distributed in Little White House
"I think God began to set the basis back then for how we serve folks at the Healing
Center today." — Jim Cochran
A few of our staff leaders traveled to the Langley Vineyard in British Columbia. We were most impacted by the great respect they showed for those they were serving. They presented the free, used clothing in classy displays and created a welcoming environment.
Upon returning, Doug Roe, who oversaw our MercyWorks outreach, was so impacted by what we saw he immediately started remodeling the guest area of the little white house Vineyard Christian Fellowship had purchased on Crescentville Road. He also coached our volunteers toward a mindset of serving folks with great dignity.
Servant Evangelism as a New Type of Outreach
By 1996, Vineyard Community Church was up to six services on the weekend, and we began to look to move into a bigger space.
In addition to the ministry happening through MercyWorks, the folks of the Vineyard also began reaching out through “servant evangelism.”
In 1989 we held our first free gift wrap outreach at the mall, and soon began holding free car washes and passing out free cans of Coke to people waiting in traffic. Our big, hairy, audacious goal was to touch everyone in Cincinnati with the love of God.
We prayed with people, and invited those who needed help to visit MercyWorks.
Mercy Works Co-op Established at Century Circle Location
MercyWorks was small at first, but quickly grew. As it grew, it expanded from just having the back of the Resource Center to eventually having the large room in the front.
The Vineyard purchased property in Tri-County called Century Park, and built the Resource Center first to house MercyWorks and the staff offices.
“I remember a literal mountain of clothing from floor to ceiling in one corner.
Much of the food given away came from the people of the Vineyard that they brought
in the little yellow bags. Occasionally we'd have drives to increase the donations but many people gave regularly and faithfully.”
— Mark Lutz, pastor of Growth & Healing
MercyWorks Expands, Becomes a 501C3
We served a total of 3,480 individuals in 2003. 2,288 of these were new people who had never been to MercyWorks or the Vineyard before.
In 2002 God expanded our heart for the poor. With
a newly renovated area at the Resource Center, MercyWorks gave away 250 bags of groceries each week to families in need. Volunteers spent over 7,000 hours giving personal attention to people’s needs with counseling, free health assessments, language classes, and other services.
In 2003, 57 donated cars were given away. We also gave away 6,500 bags of food, 12,400 bags of clothes, 2,600 bus tokens,
64 eye exams through Prevent Blindness Ohio Referrals, and 105 pair of eyeglass vouchers from Lenscrafters “Gift of Sight” Program.
A Vision for the Healing Center
"...I began praying that God would take me to a place where I could see and experience the manifestation of His power on
a daily basis. I believe with all my heart that the Healing Center is that place. But that place is not just a building; it is the people of God's church coming together in unity to worship Him through the greatest calling He has given us—to serve one another in love." — Judy Gillens
In 2006 Pastor Dave Workman started to talk about what it would look like if we brought the best of Mercy Works, Prayer Ministry, Growth & Healing and Children’s Ministry together to offer hope and help to the whole person.
“I remember working for about a year with the planning team. I remember being intimidated by such a large and important task as dreaming up how we were going to carry out the vision God gave Dave. The trustees were great at being confident that we could do this with God's leading. Little by little a picture emerged of what the place would look like and how it would function.”
— Mark Lutz, Pastor of Growth & Healing
Capital Campaign & the Beginning of Construction
"It is that atmosphere of care, not just the goods, that truly makes the difference (and reflects the kingdom)." -Victoria Jones
The Luke 4 Challenge was a defining moment for VCC. The vision to create the Healing Center, provide a dedicated space for students, and bring clean water to Nigeria all became a tangible reality on the first weekend in March 2007 when Vineyard attendees pledged nearly $13 million to change our city, our future, and our world.
The Healing Center began to take shape, and would soon be a safe, welcoming place for anyone to find hope, guidance, and healing. The prayer was to lift people from their lowest physical, emotional or spiritual point of need to the heights of wholeness with God.
The Healing Center Opens
"I was able to do the coolest thing today. I went through this building that’s being refurbished. The place will soon be full of people that need help in a lot of different ways.
People will come in to get help with real “Oh my God” situations.
Some are going to need help keeping their home; some will need help getting control of their checkbook. Also some will come in to get a live music fix or maybe just to hang out and visit.
It’s called the Healing Center." — Lee Torres (Journal Entry, January 21, 2008)
Healing Center Begins Serving
"They not only say ‘God loves you,’ they show it by giving and
giving and giving." — Karen
Every time the doors are open at the Healing Center, there are teams of volunteers interacting with guests in the community area. These teams are there to support and pray for our guests. Our Healing Prayer Rooms are booked every week with guests seeking healing both physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
In 2011, the Hunger Walk included 1,543 participants supporting the Healing Center with $36,759 of donations.
The Healing Center offered 13,954 instances of one-on-one support in 2013 through prayer, job coaching, financial counseling, income tax assistance, auto repairs, health care, and outside referrals for additional help. And 715 volunteers contributed more than 38,000 hours of service to The Healing Center.
Kroger & the Spring Clean Drive
"When I walk into the Healing Center, all my worries go away.
I see angels before me with smiles. All the helpers, their kindness, understanding, and
compassion." — Ms. Wren
In 2015, we started a partnership with Kroger to receive donations of food and new clothing and other items valued at nearly $1 million annually. On average, we receive half a trailer truck of food each week from Kroger that is then scanned, sorted, and distributed to our guests.
The Spring Clean Drive started on Easter 2015 to provide cleaning supplies
to guests of the Healing Center. Cleaning supplies such as mops, detergent, brooms, and soap can’t be bought with SNAP benefits—and everyone enjoys a clean home. That first Easter we collected $13,100 worth of cleaning products!
Life Forward Partnership
"This has been an amazing time full of growth and change. We continue to serve with excellence all who come through our doors seeking hope and help for life’s challenges."
— Monica Roberts
In October 2017, we unveiled a new partnership with Life Forward (Pregnancy Care Cincinnati), and we are now offering free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and support to women facing unplanned pregnancies in our medical office two days
a week. Life Forward shares our core values and is an excellent partner for us as we seek to connect with and support young families.
Celebrating 10 Years!