Great River Outreach (GRO) Community Summit will probably be held “in the Fall and one in the Spring,” according to Matt Jones, GRO President.

RiverReader attended the Great River Outreach (GRO) Community Summit that was held on November 15th, 2018 at The Table, in Savanna. The facility is located in what is left of the old Chestnut Park School on Viaduct Road. GRO was created in 2006, and has been working with the New Unity Deliverance & Worship Center to offer a very-needed meal service program called “The Table”. According to GRO President Matt Jones, “Part of it is serving food, and the other part is socialization,”. Sharing a meal with others is a large aspect of healthy living. “It’s not good to stay in the house too much. It’s important to get out sometimes.” said Jones.

At the Community Summit, RiverReader spoke with one of the members of GRO, Mark Klein. Klein is the owner of The Answer Fitness, Tanning, Nutrition, & Physical Therapy in Savanna. The Answer hosts GRO’s largest annual fundraiser, the Tread-A-Thon, which is held at The Answer, located at 319 Main St. in Savanna.

There were raffle prizes, a wealth of information about area services, and a lot of people in attendance. There were some delicious looking homemade desserts, along with snacks and drinks for everyone who’d gathered there for a meal, or for the summit.

Here is a little bit of RiverReader’s conversation with Klein:

This #GivingTuesday, and for the rest of this December, make your donation dollars work for those in need in your local communities. The Great River Outreach (GRO) is a local organization that helps connect those in need with the services they require to help them get back on their feet, or even to make it to the next week or month.

On November 27th, RiverReader had a great conversation with Matt Jones, the President of the Great River Outreach (GRO). Jones told us that One GRO Donor will match all donations to GRO for up to $3,000 for the entire month of December! Because GRO is 100% funded through donations, this is an opportunity to make your donation count for double, before the end of the year. Please donate to GRO at the following address, to have your donation matched dollar-for-dollar:

Great River Outreach – GRO
P.O. Box 361
Savanna, IL 61073

A satellite GRO meal service is held every Wednesday at the United Methodist Church in Mount Carroll. “We get a lot of participation from Thomson, and even from Sabula, Iowa. We cross county and state lines. The Great River Outreach wants to immediately impact lives right here in Carroll County,”. In 2017, The Mt. Carroll Church of God Builders Group helped GRO with building a handicap entrance to the dining hall of The Table.

The core of GRO is a meal service program. Part of it is serving food, but another essential aspect is socialization and sharing a meal with others. Every Wednesday at the United Methodist Church in Mount Carroll.

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There is a Tuesday cooking class that is very popular. “…the folks who need [food] can learn to cook what they get at the food pantry. That’s really important. We also have spiritual classes that take place, looking at that side of life. The flexibility with the classes is great. Wherever there is an interest to teach, if it’s something that goes along with assisting these folks, we’re open to offering that. The other part of our core program is our Summer Bible Camp. It brings international students to Savanna. The teachers and coordinators come from Stronghold Presbyterian Mission in Oregon, Illinois. They bring in international students to teach the camp. It’s held in Savanna at the Savanna Bible Church, held normally in June. It’s about a week long, starts in the morning with breakfast and concludes with lunch. Food is donated and prepared by The Table, GRO’s Meal Center. Normally has 30-35 campers.”

Fundraising is done through a golf outing in the spring, and a Bike-A-Thon. Mark Klein at The Answer Fitness in Savanna created the Tread-A-Thon, which is the largest fundraiser for GRO.

GRO is always looking for volunteers. There is always help needed at The Table in the kitchen. There is a need for guest kitchen teams of 3-4 people to do food prep, serving, and clean up. The Table provides a food service license for volunteers. The manager works Monday through Friday at The Table, and the board is hoping to be able to give her Fridays off. Local volunteer help to operate the program and plan coordination for future programs is always welcome. Anyone with an interest in helping the meal program, or donating, please email for more information, or visit the Facebook page at Great River Outreach – GRO.

Everything is 100% funded through donations, the bulk of which has gone toward the ongoing support of the GRO program, and to move to our current site, at the old Chestnut Park School. We partner with the New Unity and Deliverance Church. They have space at the school, which GRO partially occupies, and have been working with GRO since its inception.

Parson Bob, of Stronghold Bible Camp, and Pastor Gary Panetta of First Presbyterian Church of Savanna pose in front of a beautifully decorated Christmas tree at the Great River Outreach (GRO) Community Summit held on November 15, 2018. (RiverReader photo/Sarah Hanviriyapunt)

Savanna Helping Savanna is a new group in Savanna, and it consists of community residents and members of Savanna churches. The group was started to help senior or disabled residents of Savanna who have limited funds and need home painting services, yard cleanup, or things of that nature. Pastor Gary Panetta of the Presbyterian Church of Savanna (815-590-1792), and Karen Robinson (815-273-7816) of Hickory Grove United Methodist Church lead the Savanna Helping Savanna group. The goal is to make Savanna a better place to live.

Anyone who has an interest or the ability is invited to join the GRO board. The Board is made up of ministers from Savanna, Thomson and Mount Carroll, along with service providers such as Sinissippi, Tri-County Centers, Riverview Center, Tri-County Thrift Store, Carroll County Housing Authority, and a representative of the Savanna Food Pantry. We work closely with the Savanna Food Pantry, which provides food and immediate meals and eduction for those in need,”.

RiverReader will be publishing a list of the groups and organizations who were at the Summit, along with contact information, in an effort to link all these very necessary and needed services together in once place. Please look for it in the future.



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