Nonprofit in works to operate men's emergency shelter this winter

Nonprofit in works to operate men's emergency shelter this winter

CHAMPAIGN — July is still delivering hot weather, but several local churches are already looking ahead to the freezing months of winter and the impact of the cold on homeless men in the community.

A nonprofit organization is being established for a men's winter emergency shelter by Faith United Methodist, New Covenant Fellowship and First Presbyterian churches along with C-U at Home and the United Way of Champaign County, according to the Rev. Sheryl Palmer, the pastor at the Methodist church.

The organization board members aim to get the men's shelter open by Dec. 1 and to raise enough money to fund its entire $50,000 budget in advance, she said.

Plans are to operate the shelter for four months at New Covenant Fellowship Church, Champaign, she said.

Based on responses so far, Palmer said she and others involved in the planning are optimistic they'll meet those goals.

"We feel very confident, based on church response and community support," she said.

This past winter, the men's shelter operated at all three churches and housed more than 100 men over nearly three months. Faith United Methodist and First Presbyterian alternated shelter duties on different nights of the week for the first couple of months, and New Covenant Fellowship took over during the final weeks, starting in mid-March.

Palmer, who is chairing the board of the nonprofit, said the group is looking for additional members from other faith groups and churches.

"This is an interfaith effort," she said.

Palmer's church will continue to take the lead and hire staff for the shelter, and there will also be jobs for volunteers who want to get involved, she said.

"Basically, we're building off of last year," she said.

The shelter will operate as a "damp" shelter, meaning it will accept men who are intoxicated, she said.

"We won't turn people away," Palmer said.

Eventually, C-U at Home, an organization dedicated to helping the homeless, could pick up the shelter operation, "and hopefully run with it year-round," Palmer said.

Leaders of C-U at Home said that organization is continuing to gather more information about future shelter and staffing needs, and as a Christian ministry, it feels called to be part of the shelter initiative.

"Currently, we are collaborating with Faith United Methodist Church, New Covenant Fellowship, United Way and others to identify the need for the most vulnerable in our community and work to provide those emergency shelter services in the future," said Rob Dalhaus, C-U at Home's managing director.

Meanwhile, there will be a fundraising concert featuring Christian musicians Paul Todd and Paul Todd Jr. to benefit the men's emergency shelter at 7 p.m. July 31 at Faith United Methodist. Tickets are $15 in advance, and will be $20 at the door.

There's a bit of money leftover from last year's shelter operation, and anyone wishing to contribute to next winter's budget can do so through Palmer or the United Way.

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Local Yocal wrote on July 15, 2017 at 8:07 am
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Thanks to Faith United Methodist, New Covenant Fellowship and First Presbyterian churches along with C-U at Home and the United Way of Champaign County for doing such great work. 

pattsi wrote on July 15, 2017 at 10:07 am

Totally agree with Chris Evans. Here is hoping that becomes a year round permanent shelter to replace the haphazard community approach for years is to be supported by all. It is an imbarrassment that a county of this caliber does not have a shelter system in place.

Local Yocal wrote on July 16, 2017 at 1:07 am
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Then why doesn't the county government chip in some money instead of always searching for ways to build more jail? If a shelter was a priority, the county would foot some of the bill for a shelter. 

Bystander wrote on July 16, 2017 at 1:07 am
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Liberal cop hater Yodeller is again trying to take money away from law enforcement. The county has its priorities right: consolodate all jailing at the Sattellite, which would save the county money and be best practices in the long run. 

CptJustice wrote on July 16, 2017 at 6:07 am
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It figures it's up to the churches to do what the governments fail to do. Where is the City of Champaign, the City of Urbana, the U of I or the county government on this?   

Automan wrote on July 16, 2017 at 6:07 am
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The governments and U of I are too busy building civic plazas, football weight rooms, and repairing the HVAC at the nursing home. 

Pointblank wrote on July 16, 2017 at 6:07 am
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The county's money is tied up in a mental health/detox drop off center, something that would benefit some of the homeless. They've been exploring such a center for two years now- and haven't gotten far in implementing a building or a service provider for the center. 

BruckJr wrote on July 16, 2017 at 10:07 am

Government should typically be the last resort especially when it comes to serving people.  Better to have the churches do it.

pattsi wrote on July 16, 2017 at 10:07 am

Actually, several entities are presently not includd in leading a solution--CUPHD and MHB, both of which are positioned to do so. Both of these entities are supported by property taxes. MHB could take a lead during the annual call for proposals to set the stage by designing the proposal call to address "X" issues under the statute that establishes MHB, rather than the scattered proposal submissions that have been the pattern for years. The MHB annually has a huge budget of tax dollars for distribution and this continues to grow because of the growth of building and property values.

d43 wrote on July 16, 2017 at 12:07 pm

MHB?

pattsi wrote on July 16, 2017 at 1:07 pm

Mental Health Board. Property taxes fund this entity.