FOCUS was founded in 1982 by several pastors with congregations in the Old West End neighborhood of Toledo, Ohio, in response to growing community needs for services such as housing, food, and social support. The founding pastors and their congregations became the FOCUS member churches and the organization became the single point of service for the community. Providing housing and helping people gain economic stability quickly became the core work of the organization.
From its founding through 2006, the FOCUS Board of Directors was comprised entirely of representatives from the member churches, and was largely run as a grassroots community service organization. In 2006, FOCUS undertook several operational changes. A new Executive Director, was hired, the by-laws were updated to allow for community at-large board members, a strategic plan was approved, and the organization began working to professionalize and increase performance expectations for its services and operations.
The Beach House began in 1921 when Mrs. Samuel (Helen Beach) Jones–wife of former mayor “Golden Rule” Jones– recognized the need to establish a shelter for unprotected women and children. Prior to that time, homeless women were offered shelter in the Lagrange Street jail. Women from several women’s organizations assisted Mrs. Jones in establishing Beach House. The first shelter was located at 547 Erie Street. The first floor of the shelter was for “wayward” girls and the second floor was the refuge for homeless women and children. The shelter was named in honor of the mother of Mrs. Jones, Harriet Beach, who was a defender of social justice. Beach House was managed and goverened by a Board of Directors known as the “Women’s Protective Association.”
Maintenance and upkeep for the historic 2-story structure built in 1867 are the responsibility of Beach House. Beach House received tax-exempt status in 1942, and received a charter from the State of Ohio as a non-profit corporation in 1963. The name, “Women’s Protective Association was changed to “Beach House, Inc.”
With the changing needs of our community, Beach House Family Shelter has expanded its role in providing housing to the homeless in the greater Toledo area. In 1982 the program began to include shelter for intact families (including the husband) and single parent fathers with children.