Outreach campus to be renamed the Eloise Thwing Center

Published 6:38pm Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The campus of Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry, which includes the Collins Dental Center, will be named to honor Eloise Thwing, who served as Outreach’s executive director for 20 years. During a public ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 26, the site will become known as the Eloise Thwing Center.

“Her leadership, determination and dedication in growing the Outreach ministry from its infancy to serve people in need is phenomenal,” said Joe Epley, the president of Outreach. “When you look at all that she has accomplished, it is only appropriate that we and the community recognize her contributions in this public way.”

The Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry Board of Directors voted unanimously to name the Outreach campus in honor of Eloise Thwing as a token of its appreciation for her achievements in leading Outreach to become a highly effective crisis assistance organization for Polk County.

Thwing, who recently turned 93, helped found the Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry in one small room at Columbus United Methodist Church with a handful of foresighted volunteers in 1991. Over the years, she raised funds to provide food and housing assistance to hundreds of local residents who were unable to provide for their basic life needs. She also led the drive to purchase 11 acres on White Drive and build a new building for Outreach operations.

“When Eloise asked, folks with means could not say no,” Epley said. “Never seeking anything for herself, she wouldn’t stop until she got what was needed to further Outreach’s mission to help others.”

Petie Kaericher, an early Outreach volunteer and president in 1996, described Thwing as “a woman of immense compassion” for others.

“Rather than talk about families struggling to get by, sending children to bed hungry and living in inadequate and unsafe housing, Eloise brought the community together for a unified effort of helping those less fortunate. She led the effort for churches within Polk County to pool their resources for this humanitarian cause.”

“Eloise has demonstrated the true spirit of giving and helping families facing hard times when they have no place to turn. She is a living example of Christian charity. Her work is legendary,” said Connie Lomax, Outreach’s immediate past president.

“The philosophy demonstrated by Ms. Thwing over the years still guides our daily activities,” said Carol Newton, who succeeded Ms. Thwing as executive director in 2011. “She recognized the needs for the county’s poor would continue to grow, and they have. To help meet the expanded challenge, we recently doubled the size of our pantry, something Eloise began planning before she stepped down.”

Today, Outreach serves more than 300 families each month (an average of 800 individuals) with food, utilities and other basic living support. In addition, approximately 328 children receive better nutrition each weekend as a result of Outreach’s Feed-a-Kid program.

The unveiling of a new Outreach sign that includes the words “Eloise Thwing Center” will occur in a special ceremony honoring Thwing at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 26 at the Outreach office, 134 White Street in Columbus. The public is invited to attend.

- article submitted by Wendy Thomas

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