Care on the Square began around 1998, Sue Blair Wagner who worked downtown would see homeless people sleeping on the streets over sewer grates to keep warm. Her heart began to feel a call from the Lord to provide a warm sandwich, some hot coffee and hopefully some words and prayers of encouragement. One day she asked a friend to come along and together they purchased 10 McDonalds breakfast sandwiches and off they went searching for those men and women who made their home on the streets of Cleveland. They did this several times and then Sue and her sister Judy began a Christmas tradition of doing this same thing. They would stop and buy McDonalds breakfast sandwiches, make a whole bunch of coffee and hit the streets looking for the least of these. This continued year after year.
In December 2005, they ran into a man who asked if they would take him to church (the next day which was Sunday). Sue told the man she would pick him up at 9:00 a.m. The next morning Sue and Tom, went to breakfast early, picked up another breakfast for the man they were going to pick up and then headed downtown. Unfortunately the man did not show up, so they drove around the Square and looked for someone else to give the meal to. They saw a man sitting on a park bench so they stopped. Tom got out of the car and to his amazement approximately 4 other homeless men approached him. He handed one person the breakfast, one person coffee, reached in his pocket got money out for the others (which now they understand to not be wise). They both decided that they had to come back down and do something.
The following weekend they headed downtown with a few dozen donuts and lots of coffee. Then by the next weekend they began making sandwiches and coffee out of their home, taking socks and gloves and heading down to the Square right in front of Tower City. They would open the hatchback of Sue’s Honda CRV and begin serving approximately 30 people every week. Within a month, there began to be other friends from their church (CVC) that wanted to join them. It got larger and larger. Now using their kitchen to prepare soups, their garage to sort clothes and their driveway to pray before heading down to minister to whoever God allowed us to meet. They also started to receive food donations from Trader Joe’s. At this time they out grew their home and moved everything to their church. Pastor Dale Piscura was part of the group that would head downtown and one Saturday we were trying to think of a name for this ministry and Dale said, why don’t we call it “Care on the Square”? Most appropriate, most perfect and it stuck! So that is the history of Care on the Square. Currently we meet at 18th and Payne and receive all of our food donations from the Cleveland Food Bank, we have approximately 100 volunteers.