The emergency homeless shelter originally scheduled to open on the December 16 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, has been delayed until the 26th. The staff coordinating the shelter stated they ran into “administrative hurdles” but are confident in the new date. So much so, that the sign-ups for volunteers are live at: https://timecounts.org/ktha/events/10463 and the shelter is now accepting donations.
Homeless Initiatives Program Coordinator, Chaz Felix, explained that the delay comes after concerns regarding meeting the needs of the incoming homeless population and its impact on the surrounding neighborhood.
Part of the reason the shelter was delayed was ensuring that complaint’s from last year’s operations are addressed. To do so, the staff has taken a multifaceted approach by hiring security staff while the shelter is open, prohibiting loitering around the shelter, ensuring supportive services will be available onsite at all times, and adding extra weekly trash pick-ups.
Organizers have also met with neighbors in the area to explain the project and hear concerns.
“We respect there is a fine line,” Felix said. “all homeless service
providers must walk between meeting the needs of the homeless community and addressing concerns of surrounding neighborhoods. We feel our site is a tailored compromise, but we are certainly open to better improving operations on a continuous basis.”
Last year’s shelter met numbers as high as 90 homeless in one night. The staff expects similar numbers this year. To ensure they have enough resources, the staff is encouraging donations and volunteers.
The shelter is asking for donations of items such as coffee, hot chocolate, tea bags, sugar, creamer, paper cups, napkins, snacks, toothbrushes, and socks.
Volunteers will be needed to help with check-ins, preparing snacks and beverages, handing out blankets and engaging in some friendly conversation.
Organizers have begun to spread the word of the shelter by distributing flyers. Felix is confident the opening night will see a decent turnout as word tends to travel fast among the homeless community.
For questions on volunteering and donations, call Rev. Suzy Ward (559) 967-4065 or Christy Bergen (559) 356-9526.