Shelter organizers not quitting despite fire

By Scott Halasz

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XENIA — While investigators search for the cause of a fire that destroyed a homeless shelter poised to open, shelter organizers are working to find a new location.

Haven, the group behind the shelter, was set to open it about a week ago when a fire left the building charred and uninhabitable. Haven’s volunteers are distraught but not deterred.

“We are looking at a couple other properties,” said shelter director Paula Lowe. “We’re not backing down. We know there’s something bigger and better. We want to turn (the fire) into a blessing.”

Lowe said she hopes to have a better idea of the shelter’s future by the middle of next week. Until then, Haven will resume serving lunches at CheckSmart Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Lowe will also hand out coins and laundry detergent when she is able to so people can wash clothes.

“I will not stop what I was meant to be doing,” she said.

The building was deemed a total loss according to Xenia Fire Division Captain Jeff Bruggeman. Low said Haven was renting the building and had not yet obtained renter’s insurance meaning none of the equipment or food will be covered.

“We invested a lot into that building,” Lowe said. Haven had obtained a refrigerator, $400 worth of food and an air conditioner, according to Lowe, who added Haven volunteers had been working in the building for almost three weeks.

She said the fire started when the stove was turned on, but until then there no apparent electrical issues.

If there is one positive, Lowe said the fire is making more community members reach out and volunteer once a new location is secured.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.