Williamsburg's Homeless & Indigent

P.O. Box 366, Lightfoot, VA 23090
Office: 757-561-3255
"Assisting people in re-gaining hope and a better way of life."

Saturday, May 03, 2003

The Last Word

“At the recent Eastern State Hospital meeting, a woman asked for a building for a homeless shelter. Even if she gets the building, where will the money come from to staff it? If you look at any of the programs offered by homeless shelters, you would find at least two people on staff at all times, a case worker, a commercial kitchen to prepare meals, laundry service and utilities. The financial reports by the shelters show this can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. By her own admission, the woman has no experience running a shelter, just ‘compassion.' I think it is worse to fail the people you strive to serve through incompetence than to send them to shelters that have the resources, training and financial backing to truly help them.”

I also saw this article today in the Va Gazette. Because time was short at the ESH meeting this past week, I didn't have the opportunity to go into details about our plan for a shelter and besides, not many have asked if we have a plan. YES, we do. In response to this article, I will give some details we have worked out. I do have funding for the shelter. And there are several non-profit groups across the US that will help with funding on behalf of the homeless. That is why I have some of their links on the website. I never said I was going to run it. I did say it was my goal to get one established in Williamsburg and to get our non-profit ministry established. I do have several people that have offerred and are prepared to volunteer their time to help running it, work or offer services to and even some who have said they would stay on the property as 'house mothers and fathers.' I have a Social Worker who is willing to donate their time for whatever services she can provide. I have contacted the national AA and NA organizations for future meetings at the shelter for those who want to attend. We do already have ministers who are willing to donate time for chapel during the week and/or on Sunday for those who want to worship. We have already started 'stockpiling' clothes (men, women and children) for those who need it and have 40 rubbermaid bins filled and several bags filled. Job networking we are already in the process of doing. I am currently scheduling time with the different agencies in our area to see how their 'intake' process is done and yes, I do call upon agencies/churches for help. You say I have no experience, but how do you, because I didn't say that. I have worked with homeless for over 6 years. During my college years, if it wasn't for the fact my adopted father died and I was unable to finish my last year of school, I would have had a degree in Sociology and Psychology with a minor in Philosophy. By the time Probate was completed and monies freed up for me to continue my education, my life had already changed it's course. A cook, yes we have one of those also, who his heart desires to do a soup kitchen. I do know what all is involved with a shelter to be able to staff it. I do have volunteers to also staff it. Duh, I know you have to have utilities. Maybe to you I don't have the experience in a shelter, but I do have the experience in working with the homeless.

Our group's vision for a shelter?

*Rooms for men, women and 'suites' for families (too many times the family is ripped apart, I would like to keep them together.)
*A fellowship hall for Chapel, AA, NA and Bible Study for those who want it
*A game room (you need to keep the mind alert as well. Also can be used for Arts/Crafts like ESH does.)
*An exercise room (if you work on the mind and Spirit, you need to also include the body.)
*Laundry area
*Job networking
*Housing office (to help with getting affordable housing when the person/people are able to move onto their own.)
*Skill training area
*Donation room for clothing, especially if somebody comes in with almost nothing.
*Everyday living training (such as paying bills, making your paycheck work for you, resumes for jobs, budgeting...)

This is just to say a few about what our goal is. Also, when people move on their own, keep up with them. This is a great tool I learned through DSS Social Services. When a child is adopted, the SW keeps in contact for roughly a year. That way in regards to somebody moving on their own knows if they still need help, we are still there for them.


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