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Networking is key to SAM Center’s growth |

Networking is key to SAM Center’s growth

The veterans resource center is happy with the support it’s received from the community.

MASSILLON  No man is an island.

It’s a phrase that means humans all depend on each other to survive and that we do not thrive when isolated from others. It’s also a good way to describe how the Serving Area Military (SAM) Center has been able to grow since first opening its doors two years ago.

Located at 413 Lincoln Way E, the SAM Center’s mission is to assist local heroes and their families in a variety of ways. That, though, hasn’t been possible without the help of a long list of generous contributors.

“We are totally 100 percent dependent on the support of our community, whether it be organizations, businesses, individuals,” Executive Director Melissa Seibert said. “With all of them supporting SAM Center and our outreach center, we’re able to meet these needs.”

From a food pantry (known as the commissary), to lodging kits – packed with dishes, pots, pans, linen and appliances – the SAM Center has been able to play a large role in helping area veterans. The organization even prepared 233 Thanksgiving meals this past year and were there to hand out seasonal clothing to veterans in need this past winter.

The group can help veterans who are seeking medals he or she earned in the service.

The ultimate goal is to deliver hope to those who have served. And every day, little by little, the SAM Center is making some progress is conquering that mission.


“It’s not about one person working alone,” founder and Chief Executive Officer Bryan Bowman said. “It’s a community of organizations that have come together to help veterans. Donors and outside organizations, they are the lifeblood of what we’re doing.”

The biggest ways the organization has been able to expand in such a short time comes from its strong ability to network with other resources. That has meant partnering with a variety of other veteran service organizations, as well as offering a place for volunteers to make a difference.

After all, the SAM Center can really draw nothing but strength through the helping hands of as many different kinds of people and organizations as possible. With different people offering different services, the organization strongly benefits from the talents and expertise.

“By partnering with other agencies, we have the opportunity because of our networking to be able to say, ‘Sit down, let’s see what we can do,’” Seibert said. “We are constantly trying to keep our resources open so that we can try to help even more.”

Outside organizations, especially area businesses, have also aided in the SAM Center’s cause. 

“I think it’s very important that organizations, no matter what kind of service they provide, to network,” Seibert said. “Massillon is very good about that and, really, Stark County as a whole is too. When we network together, the possibilities become greater.”

Powered by volunteers

The center’s power has been fueled by the hard work of caring volunteers. Bowman said the SAM Center staff put in over 6,000 volunteer hours in 2016, executing a variety of services to veterans, members of the active service, reserves, and veteran widows and widowers.

And the SAM Center is looking to do more. That’s why it’s excited about a few new projects that will hopefully make an even bigger difference.

In November, the organization is planning on hosting Stark County’s first veteran stand down, an event that provides supplies and services to homeless and/or struggling veterans. With proper execution, the event has the potential to create a bigger reach to area veterans, as well as offer another opportunity to get the SAM Center’s mission out to the public.

“I would say I’m never satisfied; there can always be more awareness,” Bowman said. “I think we’ve reached out to a lot of people, but I think there are still a lot of people that don’t know we exist. … The big next step is just to continue to grow and expand.”

Donations are always appreciated and happily accepted. The group routinely looks for toiletries, food and accessories (bed sheets, kitchen utensils, appliances) to be donated for the veterans.

The group is also looking for additional aid in volunteering in any of its current services. The SAM Center will find a way to make the thought count.

“I tell people that if they know there’s a need, then contact us,” Seibert said. “People say they know of a need in town and want to help our heroes. I tell them to give us a call and tell us what you want to do.”

Reach Joe at 330-775-1129 or

On Twitter: @jmitchinINDE

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