Funding in place for homeless shelter
There is now funding in place to start a homeless shelter for women and children at the Endless Mountains Mission Center (EMMC) on U.S. Route 6 in West Burlington Township, an organizer of the shelter said.
Now organizers need to line up volunteers to staff the shelter, said Jenenne Goliash, facilitator of the Local Housing Options Team, a local committee that is working to start the shelter.
"If we can get (volunteer) staff lined up, we will open it (the shelter)," Goliash said.
Because there is only a limited amount of funding in place for the shelter, organizers are trying to get volunteers to staff it, she said.
On Thursday, the Bradford County commissioners approved a contract with Partners in Family & Community Development (PFCD), under which the county will provide $10,000 is state funds to PFCD to get the shelter up and running. Partners in Family & Community Development, which is non-profit agency based in Towanda, is administering the funds to operate the shelter and is working with the Local Housing Options Team to establish the facility.
The $10,000 is a sufficient amount of money to operate the shelter in the coming months, particularly if paid staff do not need to be hired, Goliash said.
If paid staff need to be hired, which may need to be done if volunteers cannot be found, they will quickly use up the $10,000, and the shelter might have to be closed before the winter is over, she said.
The shelter will serve as a place for women and children to spend the night and get out of the weather, she said.
And with cold weather having set in, the need for the shelter is apparent, she said.
"I've gotten at least three calls this week from people with no place to go," Goliash said. "Those are the people we are concerned about" and for whom the shelter would be appropriate, she said.
The shelter would be open Monday through Friday for short-term stays, she said. Those who used the shelter would have to leave in the morning, but would be able to return to the shelter again at night, she said.
The Endless Mountains Mission Center is used as a site for church services on Sunday, so the shelter could not operate there on the weekends, Goliash said.
Currently, there are enough cots and bedding at the site to accommodate six or seven people at a time, Goliash said.
If there is enough demand, the capacity of the shelter would be expanded through the purchase of more cots and bedding, she said.
Last summer, organizers of the shelter operated a "pilot" homeless shelter in the Endless Mountains Mission Center for a couple of nights to see how the shelter would work out, she said.
However, until now, no funding has been in place to re-open the shelter on a long-term basis, she said.
The Endless Mountain Mission Center is owned by the Susquehanna Conference of the United Methodist Church.
The only role that the United Methodist Church would have related to the homeless shelter would be to furnish the building where it is located, Goliash said.
Those who stayed in the shelter would have to be referred there by one of a number of other agencies, Bradford County Human Services Director Bill Blevins said. They would not be able to walk in off the street, he said.
Only women and children will be able to stay in the shelter, because that is a restriction that was made by the owners of the EMMC building, he said.
Organizers have been discussing opening a second shelter that would be open on weekends at another location, Goliash said.
The $10,000 comes from the $62,748 in state Human Service Development Funds that have been allocated to Bradford County this year, Blevins said.
The Local Housing Options Team is a committee that was originally launched by the Bradford County government. Most of the members of the Local Housing Options Team are representatives of local human services agencies.
At 3 p.m. on Dec. 7, there will be a meeting held at the Endless Mountains Mission Center "to educate people who are willing to volunteer (at the shelter) and to try to get things going (at the shelter)," Goliash said.
If you are interested in volunteering and/or attending the meeting, call Goliash at (570) 265-7448.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: email@example.com