“We would not have opened this year, had it not been for the generosity of the Cole Foundation and the County Foundation,” said Mental Health Society Board Member Rene Rohleder.
Rohleder said one key factor in the decline of funding was due to the fact that State and Federal funding is “pretty much lost to us because money is very strained.”
Though grateful to have been able to offer shelter to people, during one of the coldest winters in history, Rohleder and the other Board members will soon be facing the challenge of looking for funding again.
“We have no shortage of volunteers, people who are ready and willing to lend a helping hand - but it’s difficult to come up with the money,” Rohleder said.
The Board will be meeting next month, and throughout the summer, to explore options and plan for another year.
“We’re getting by, for now,” said Board Chairman John Baker. “The Foundations got us through this year and we will soon begin working on the next.”
The average number of beds in use declined this year. This can be attributed to the fact that there has been a large spike in the numbers of homeless families and, since the shelter is a men’s only facility, many families were faced with the choice of whether or not to split up.
“When a family is distressed because of economic breakdown, the decision to split up is not an easy one,” said Rohleder. “We have seen a huge shift in family dynamics, in which grandparents are housing their children and their grandchildren because so many families are unable to make it on their own.”
“Providing shelter for women and children is not our field, but we are certainly sensitive to the issue and agree that awareness about the issue should be increased,” said Baker.
Many in the county’s homeless community are transient, having been pushed out of larger cities with overflowing homeless populations.
“It has always been our mission to show love for our fellow man, regardless of his origin,” said Rohleder. “Most of the people who are involved in this see it as an obligation of faith to take care of the less fortunate. This community has always supported our efforts to bring hope and faith to all people. We would not have been able to continue for this long without so much community support.”
“Our Board will face challenges in the coming months, as we seek out opportunities at a time when the County is struggling economically.”
Staff writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 18, or by email firstname.lastname@example.org