column

Shreve

They say it can be bleakest just before dawn, I am feeling hopeful that it is true. If you have read this column recently you have heard about the struggle our homeless shelters are having. In Adams County, SCCAP has a family shelter. Last year we served 57 families, 171 individuals with 99 of them being children. Funding cuts and a change in philosophy at the Federal level have finally reached a point where it was either close the shelter or take drastic cost-cutting steps to buy time. On May 12, we made the painful decision to close during the day. Now, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., the shelter is closed, and families must leave. If we don’t find an additional $100,000 per year in funding, the shelter will close permanently.

I have been sharing this news since February and little did I know, a small group of angels have been building in the background and in July, a fundraising effort to build sustainable funding for the homeless shelter will be begin in earnest. July is when we lose the majority of our shelter funding. There are very few words to describe the way this kind of support feels. The hope it creates. The light it brings.

I met with an amazing young woman, last Friday. She was at our homeless shelter in 2015 and wanted to share her story with me. She reached out after she heard that the shelter might close. She and her young children came to our shelter when she had no where else to go. She regained hope, stabilized, found better employment, saved, and after six months was ready to move out. After she moved out of the shelter, she stayed in touch with staff at the shelter and asked for help when needed. She, with appropriate support, worked really hard to rebuild her life! Today she owns a small business and is thriving. She supports her children and while life as a single mom isn’t easy, she is doing it really well. She is amazing.

Part of the change in philosophy at HUD that caused the cuts to funding required changes to our shelter services. We had to move families out of the shelter quickly (the established target was 14 – 30 days), well before many families had even regained hope, let alone stabilized. We also had to take families off a regional queue, and we needed to take individuals who were active in addiction. We don’t have the skills to serve families who are not yet in recovery. These changes to our shelter were detrimental, impacting the long-term outcomes for the families we were serving. Our goal is long term stability. That is the right answer for families and our community.

The shift we are making away from government funding to local donor funding allows us to serve Adams County families in a way that creates real stability. The positive side of losing the funding, is the ability to serve families in a manner that supports positive long-term change. It allows us to take the time it needs to help a family build a new life, so families can thrive and not need us in the future.

On July 1, we ask that you join us to help local homeless families. You can make a gift our family shelter open. If you prefer, we have an endowment fund at the Adams County Community Foundation where you can invest in SCCAP’s future so that we are not impacted by government cuts. Go to www.sccap.org for more information and thank you for helping local families build new lives.

Megan Shreve is the CEO of South Central Community Action Programs Inc., the mission of which is: Empower families and engage the community to pursue innovative and effective solutions to break the cycle of poverty.

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