Dora Grant: a beacon of hope and change in Sandusky

In every community, there are unsung heroes who work tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of others. These individuals embody selflessness, compassion, and an unwavering commitment to serve their fellow citizens. 

In Sandusky, one such exceptional person is Dora Grant. From her grassroots work to her efforts in gathering community officials to ignite conversations for change, Grant’s impact has transformed the lives of hundreds of individuals over the years. 
At the heart of Grant's work is her unwavering connection with people. She understands genuine change starts from the ground up, and she has been a conduit between the community and the infrastructure of social services. 

Her approach is simple yet profound: she listens to the needs of the people, advocates on their behalf, and ensures they receive the support they require. 

Once, a man stood in her office and yelled, “I will kill for food!” On that day, food services were not available. The man continued to yell and declared he had not eaten in four days. 

Grant picked up the office telephone, dialed her home, and asked that the roast she was preparing for her family’s dinner be brought to her office. 

Her relentless efforts have brought hope and promise to countless individuals, showing them that they matter, and that change is possible.

Grant's journey of service began in 1995, and for 28 years she has been serving the youth and families of Sandusky through the Center for Cultural Awareness

Her commitment to the community is evident in her involvement in impactful youth programs. Among these is the South Side Enrichment and Empowerment Program, aimed at providing meals, winter coats, and social activities, and serving as a resource and support to neighborhoods in the south side of town.

A bonding and mentorship program Grant spearheads in collaboration with the City of Sandusky Police Department is the ice cream social. This program allows children to interact with the police in a fun, lighthearted environment, breaking down barriers and fostering positive relationships. 

Grant stands in Churchwell Park, where she has spent a lot of time, in the MacArthur Park neighborhood.This holiday season, she’s planning “Cookies and Crafts” for the children and police to enjoy time together.

Additionally, Grant is a force behind the essential coat, hat, and glove drive, ensuring children have access to warm clothing during the colder months. 

The drop-off location for new coats, hats, and gloves is the Sandusky Police Department lobby. Follow the City of Sandusky's Facebook page for details on the 2023 collection.

One individual who has had the privilege of witnessing Grant’s unwavering dedication is City of Sandusky City Manager John Orzech. Through his various roles, including his time as police chief, Orzech experienced firsthand the profound impact Dora had on the community. 

He highlights Grant’s focus on community policing and her advocacy for the South Side neighborhoods. She has planned events and activities at Churchwell Park and fostered a positive relationship between the police and children, promoting trust, safety, and cooperation. 

Orzechh describes Grant as the epitome of selflessness for others.

“When Dora calls, you can’t tell her no,” he says. 

Despite the tremendous efforts to provide services for all, Grant acknowledges that obstacles persist. 

Financial constraints, geographical accessibility, language barriers, and stigmas attached to mental health and substance abuse can prevent some individuals from accessing much-needed services. 

It is essential for policymakers and service providers to recognize and address these barriers to ensure equitable access to services for every member of the community, she says.

These discussions are not always easy, as they tackle complex issues affecting the city. 

However, Grant’s ability to make people feel seen and heard is the catalyst for positive transformation, says City of Sandusky Community Development Director Colleen Gilson.

“She knows what’s going on in the lives of our community neighborhoods,” Gilson says.

Through her advocacy and bridge-building efforts, she brings together different stakeholders to create a promising future for Sandusky.

Another of those efforts is another of Grant’s projects, the community warming and cooling center.

“In Erie County where the weather can be unpredictable, having a community warming and cooling center is not a luxury but a necessity,” Grant says. 

When temperatures soar, cooling shelters help to prevent health risks such as heat stroke or exhaustion. During harsh winter months, the warming center is a sanctuary from the biting cold.

At the heart of the center lies the dedication of Grant and the volunteers who give their time and effort to ensure its smooth operation. 

In December, Grant spent four days over Christmas at the shelter when a snowstorm belted Sandusky. Her commitment to aiding those in need not only provides physical comfort and food but also fosters a sense of belonging during Christmas.

Grant can be spotted driving around town during unsafe weather events looking for community members who may be unaware the shelter is open for refuge.  

Her journey is a testament to the power of selflessness and compassion in transforming lives and the Sandusky community. Her initiatives have bridged gaps and built trust.

Sandusky Warming and Cooling Center:
Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church
1920 Eddy Henry Way
Sandusky, OH  44870

Transportation to the center:
Sandusky Transit System at 419-627-0740
Sandusky Police Department at 419-627-5863 

Center announcements and updates can be found on the City of Sandusky’s Facebook page