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New director picks up her father’s mission

Staff photo / Bob Coupland Caitlin Gilger-White is the new executive director of the Warren Family Mission.

WARREN — The new Warren Family Mission executive director said reaching those in the community in need is the key to her work.

Caitlin Gilger-White, who became director officially in June, said she took over the responsibilities from her father, Pastor Chris Gilger, who died last year after being the director of the mission since its inception.

Gilger-White said having grown up with her father as director and seeing what he did over the years familiarized her with the duties.

She oversees management of the mission, the staff and the day-to-day happenings at the numerous locations, which include the mens’ program facility, Hannah’s House, and the food program, pantry and meals at the main mission site off Tod Avenue in Warren.

She also organizes all the mission’s main annual events, including the back to school backpack giveaway that increases every year.

“We will give away 400 bookbags on Friday (Aug. 5) throughout the Mahoning Valley. Novelis helps us with this,” she said.

She said with Second Harvest Food Bank having a food shortage there is an increased food need.

“We are very slim on the food ordering so our food pantry is very low. We also use that food for preparing our meals as well. It makes it difficult since we are doing 400 meals a day,” Gilger-White said.

She said an increase this year of 100 more meals per day includes bagged lunch and a hot dinner six days per week. Gilger-White said the goal is to serve dinners on Sunday in the future to provide meals seven days per week.

Gilger-White and her husband, Eddie, live in Champion with their three children. Eddie is a licensed counselor. The family attends Believer’s Christian Fellowship Church, where they take part in many church activities.

Their children attend Champion schools, and she is preparing for her younger child to enter kindergarten at Champion Central Elementary.

“My dad started the mission when I was 6. I saw what he did here as I was growing up. He would bend over backwards for people. My father would drive people here to the mission to help them out. He got to know people on a first person basis and personal level,” Gilger-White said.

She said she remembers her father bringing guests home to eat Christmas dinner with the family.

“To us they were like part of the family. Seeing all that made me have a bigger heart for doing this. I have seen people broken and want to help them,” Gilger-White said.

Gilger-White was attending Kent Sate University when she began working at the mission one or two days per week, helping where needed. She spent seven years working with her father.

“I remember my father called me and said he had lost two essential employees who left. I helped him and took over as volunteer coordinator. He needed me to take over development and marketing, which I learned about as part of the daily mission operations,” she said.

She later quit college to work at the mission full time.

Gilger-White said a main reason for the mission is to tell people about Jesus, which is done through the programs offered.

“I see people who need help and we help them. After receiving help, people leave there like a different person, It is amazing,” she said.

Gilger-White said the mission is able to direct people to recovery and counseling groups.

Gilger-White said she was one of seven children to her father and mother, Margaret, who now lives in Warren. The family grew up in Lordstown.

She said her family struggled over the years, but her father wanted to help others who were in need.

“We were no better off than the people who we were helping. Like many families, we struggled,” she said.

She said she is proud to carry on her father’s work, which was helped by her grandfather who had worked his life at Packard Electric and was the first donor.

Gilger-White said she enjoys seeing a variety of people through her work at the mission including those she helps, those who volunteer and those who stop to make donations.

“It is nice to meet people and be able to touch their lives. That is the best part for me,” she said.

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