POINT PLEASANT — The staff at the Mason County Homeless Shelter is currently working towards raising enough funds to purchase land for a new homeless shelter.
John Machir, Mason County Homeless Shelter/Simms housing director, shared the goal amount those at the shelter would like to meet by May of this year is approximately $40,000. Significant donations have already been made toward this effort, but additional help from those in the community, even $10-$20 donations from each household in the county, would help the staff at the shelter to not only reach, but exceed their goal.
If the land for the facility can be secured through donated funds, then a grant should be sufficient for the building of the facility. The writing of the grant will begin in June and is due in August of this year.
Machir explained the new facility will have three family rooms instead of one, it will be all one level, handicap accessible, with 4,500 square feet of area. The homeless shelter stays at or near capacity at all times. By having more family rooms, more people can be housed. Machir commented one to two families with children have to be turned away each week because of the shelter only having one family room.
The new pantry will be an expanded area capable to hold a refrigerator and freezer, so more food options will be available at all times, such as milk. Also, in the pantry an entire section will be set up for clothing to be stored, not only would everyday clothing be available, but also work clothing. The new facility will have a separate laundry room as well.
With more space being available at the new homeless shelter, the staff would be able to better help individuals and they will be able to house more individuals.
Machir commented an individual’s stay at this homeless shelter is limited, but with requirements for certain housing assistance and job assistance, most individuals staying at the shelter do not meet them, which in turn can increase the number of days the individual has to stay. The reason time at the shelter is limited is because some individuals may become too comfortable with their case and not try as hard to get out of the shelter or an individual could be facing stress from not being in their own home. Currently, eight out of the 12 beds at the shelter are taken.
For those who would like to donate to the shelter for the effort to help purchase land for a new facility, donations can be given via check and dropped off at the homeless shelter. The check should be made out to Southwestern Community Action Council INC. (SCAC INC.) with Mason County Homeless Shelter written in the memo.
In other business, the staff at the homeless shelter is considering making the soup kitchen mobile, in order to visit and help more areas in the county. Also, they have been speaking with Coalfield Development and discussing the possibility of renovating dilapidated places in the area and turning them into affordable housing units. Machir wants to not only create homes for individuals, but also jobs and opportunity.
He has also been in contact with United Way to see if they can make it to where each person leaving the shelter is given a bed. Currently, when each person leaves they are given towels.
The homeless shelter has also received a numerous amount of donations. An organization in Wisconsin Clothing Across America donated several sets of socks, which is the number one item requested by homeless individuals. Also, those in the community made very generous donations for Christmas time, over the course of the entire quarter 110 emergency food baskets were given out, 55 of those going to families in Mason County in December for a full Christmas dinner. Also, several toys were donated. Machir shared some of the toys they did not need for their facility went to other local organization’s Christmas toy drives and some were stored away for any new children coming into the shelter.
“The efforts that they’ve made are very appreciated,” said Machir.
He has been working on several thank-you cards to be sent out for those who have been supporting the homeless shelter.
Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.