Men’s Warming Shelter Now Open

(BEDFORD) – While most are enjoying the warmth of a fireplace, furnace, or stove – others are facing cold temperatures, damp, wet and even snowy nights.

Unless you have been homeless, it’s hard to comprehend what it is really like.  Lawrence County is dealing with a growing homeless population.

The Men’s Warming Shelter is gearing up for another winter season. The low-barrier shelter was formed in 2014 after a homeless man froze to death on a Bedford street and several other homeless men were sleeping in stairways near the downtown area.

In its sixth year of operation, the shelter has seen a steady increase in the number of homeless men utilizing the facility.  Last winter 48 different men were served, totaling 1,053 overnight stays. Officials say that number is almost three times as many served a few years ago. 

This year the shelter plans to open one month earlier on Friday, November 1st and will be operational until April 30th, 2020.  The hours of operation have been extended. The shelter will open at 5 p.m. daily, with the check out time at 9 a.m. the following morning. Those wanting to use the shelter must be in the shelter by 9 p.m. each evening. In some incidents, men will be able to enter after the 9 p.m. deadline, but only if it is an emergency situation.

The shelter provides food, clothing, shower facilities and has a laundry facility.

Last year, instead of relying solely on volunteers, the Center employed several part-time staff members who served as site monitors. They offer the community stability that is much needed by the clientele utilizing the Shelter. Volunteers from various sectors of the community still offer important support. Several churches provide and serve evening meals.

This year, Jennifer Richason was hired to serve as Director to help supervise and coordinate activities of the facility.

Hired staff members ensure there is adequate help to assist the men to secure necessary documents, search for employment, seek counseling for mental health or addiction issues, access medical or dental care and find permanent housing to help them move forward in life.

The operating expenses for the shelter are more than $75,000 and the operating costs have increased due to extending the hours of the shelter two months, purchasing some equipment, and adding two additional part-time staff members.

The Men’s Warming Shelter relies solely on grants. There are three grant writers helping to procure the needed funds. In addition, they rely on individual, corporate and church donations. So any type of financial contribution no matter the size is always important. A $20 donation is just as important as a large contribution and is greatly appreciated.

Officials are also looking for company or corporation support for the Men’s Warming Shelter.

The spaghetti dinner held on the square in September brought the community together for this important cause. There were some key individuals and organizations that organized the fundraiser: Teena Kern, Sherwood Oaks Christian Church Bedford, Linda Smith, First Christian Church, Father Rick Eldred St. Vincent’s Depaul Church, Susan Gales, Bedford Federal Savings Bank, and Jennifer Richason.

“For fear of leaving an individual or organization out they are many individuals, churches, businesses, and many who work behind the scenes to make sure this important service was taken care of,” said Father Rick Eldred. “Bedford City employees from the police, fire, street, and Mayor’s Office have supported us in our efforts.”

“We also work with the other organizations in town that lend a helping hand to those in need – Becky’s Place and Bertha’s Mission.”

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Have been our command and we try to fulfill that in our mission of the Men’s Shelter,” said Father Rick. “ Volunteering is not only available to church members but to any community resident who would like to help out at the shelter. They can do so by contacting us. We do provide training to the volunteers and answer their questions about our operation.

“We have incorporated some services into the shelter which include, Celebrate Recovery, this class is not forced but offer it and will be led by Matthew Wilson,” Jennifer Richason commented. ” We also need men for our 3rd shift. There is some training that they need to complete for the volunteers,” Richason added.

“The Lawrence County Health Department will be providing flu shots two times this season in November and January. Becky’s Place will be supporting us in providing case management and identification needs for those needing help,” Richason continued. “Our goal is not only to provide them with their immediate needs but to try to get them back on a path of a permanent job and home. We want to ensure they are treated with dignity and self-worth.”

There are many reasons for homelessness, based on many factors, according to Father Rick.

They are a few things that are needed for the shelter. If you can contribute contact the shelter at 812-675-2682 or email menswarmingshelterofbedford@gmail.com.  Be sure to contact them ahead of time for before dropping off any donation,

This is the list:

  • Canned soups
  • Granola/breakfast bars
  • 1,000 calorie snack packs or individually wrapped snacks
  • Travel size deodorant
  • Pocket combs
  • Computer printer paper and card stock
  • Carpet savor desk mat
  • Shirts, flannels, t-shirts size small, and medium
  • Sweat pants size, small, medium, large, extra large, and extra extra large.
  • Jeans
  • Paper cutter
  • Dry erase board
  • 1 navy blue checkered kitchen curtain set
  • Swiffer wet dry for hardwood floors
  • Rugs (must be able to wash in washing machine)

To contribute money to the Men’s Warming Shelter all you have to do is go Bedford Federal Savings Bank drive-through tell them your deposit is for the Men’s Warming Shelter and it will be given to the shelter. This makes it easy and safe for your contribution to get where it’s going. You can also mail your contribution to Men’s Warming Shelter at P.O. Box 430, Bedford, Indiana 47421.

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