XENIA — Years of hard work and sticktoitiveness came to fruition in Xenia earlier this week when the Bridges of Hope emergency shelter finally opened.
A formal ribbon cutting was held Dec. 21 at the shelter, located inside the gymnasium of the old Simon Kenton Elementary School building on West Second Street.
“It’s been a three-year journey to get here,” said Dan Jordan, pastor of Grace Bible Church and Bridges of Hope president. “There’s been so many people to make this happen. It’s a blessing.”
The shelter was in doubt many times, as the city pondered every six months whether or not to extend a memorandum of understanding with BOH, giving the faith-based ministry access to the building to make its plan work. When the MOU was not extended, BOH was the successful bidder for the building, purchased it from the city in September, and went to work on getting it ready for winter’s harshness.
“We wanted to make sure (homeless people) had a place to go this winter,” said BOH Vice President Marlene Labig. “I can not tell you the number of people who had some part in this. It’s been truly a community project.”
The shelter is open daily 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. A hot meal is served 7-8 p.m. and breakfast is available 6-6:30 a.m. There are areas for men, women, and families, along with bathrooms and showers. Opening night Dec. 18 had five people visit, while nine showed up each of the next two nights.
BOH officials expect those numbers to rise as more and more people find out about its availability.
It was estimated that BOH needed $50,000 to get the building ready to open. This week, it had $35,379 on hand for operational expenses and will continue to raise money to keep it going.
“We’re doing very well,” Jordan said of the shelter’s finances. One day this week someone knocked on the door and was crying. Jordan thought it was a homeless person. But in reality it was someone wanting to hand over a $2,000 check for the shelter.
The opening signaled the end of one phase and ushered in the next, which will include moving the shelter to a permanent space in the building, keeping it open around the clock and offering a food pantry and counseling. The final phase includes expanding the kitchen, opening a laundry facility, and converting the gym into a community center.
When its complete, BOH will be a one-stop hub of hope offering a wide range of services for homeless and addicted people.
“It’s all a work in progress,” Labig said.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.