Serve City launches Love Your Neighbor awareness, fundraising campaign

Serve City hopes to raise $10,000 to help renovate the East Avenue homeless shelter by highlighting the personal stories of 14 of their clients.

The Love Your Neighbor campaign features 14 stories of clients at the homeless shelter, running one a day for the first 14 days of February. Serve City Executive Director Tammi Ector one of her primary goals taking on her position a month ago “is to raise awareness around individuals experiencing homelessness and to change the stigma about homelessness.”

“When we looked at the first fundraiser for this year, we wanted to focus on something that would accomplish those two things,” she said.

The first of the 14 features, which was published on Serve City’s website on Wednesday, is of O’Brian. Ector said while he is a unique individual, his story is not.

In 2017, O’Brian, now 28, started using opiates and became addicted to Percocet. Then in 2021, he started using stronger drugs.

“I lost all hope for life,” he said. “I didn’t care about life, friends, work.”

He went into the Genesis recovery program and by October 2021, was in sober living in Middletown. Though he never used, “depression or something got in the way.” He couldn’t pay his rent, and he was on the streets.

Eventually, he found his way to Hope House but didn’t care about working. From there, he made his way to the City Gospel Mission in Cincinnati and briefly lived with a friend before moving to Hamilton and getting in at Serve City.

O’Brian is in Access Counseling and is in an environment that helps him be social and he’s “learning how to be around a group of people again.”

His hope is to be a railroad conductor or engineer and study at the Railroad Engineering Development Institute in Atlanta.

“I used to ride the trains with my grandparents, who worked on trains,” said O’Brian, adding that he’s connected with conductors around the area.

The $10,000 will be used for residential shelter improvements, specifically for the women’s dorm, which needs new flooring and new paint on the walls, Ector said. Additionally, the shelter needs more office space constructed, and among other things, would provide privacy for individuals being assisted.

“That all aligns with our goal of becoming an access point so we can serve more individuals as well,” she said.

Ector said they’d like to have the improvements done by local businesses because it’s important to have strong connections within the community.

“That’s one of the things that’s important to us,” she said. “Making people feel like they’re able to contribute because when the individuals in our homeless shelter or in our residential apartments do well, the community thrives.”

In addition to monetary donations, the shelter is seeking nonperishable food donations, which can be contributed to several local businesses, including The Casual Pint, Chickncone, The Pour House, Revive Salon, Tano Bistro, Municipal Brew Works, and Pinball Garage.

To read about those being featured now and until Valentine’s Day, visit

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