EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final part in a series looking at homelessness in Madison County. The first part appeared in the Nov. 27 edition of The Register and the second in the Nov. 28 edition.
As the weather turns colder and the holidays approach, helping the needy is on many people's minds. The homeless population in Madison County face great challenges, but there are several organizations seeking to provide temporary shelter and other needed services to help ease some of those challenges.
"We see numerous individuals who are simply in a cycle of moving from city/shelter to city/shelter, spending their time allotted and coming back when they can," Sergeant Kevin Justice of the Salvation Army said.
The primary response given when asked about this is the long waiting lists for affordable housing. Another event that brings people to the Salvation Army shelter is a release from incarceration or medical facilities.
One place that provides shelter for the homeless is the Salvation Army of Richmond.
"We shelter individuals in our emergency shelter 365 days a year," Justice said. Their overnight shelter can accommodate 10 women and 10 men.
Shelter services can expand by about eight more beds when temperatures fall to the freezing level, he said. This is termed a "White Flag" shelter situation.
Salvation Army Pathway of Hope is a newer program that "accepts applications for families who have come upon a financial crisis," Justice said. These families are often referred through other agencies and "are ready to make a commitment to secure a way out of their situation." The Pathway of Hope program assists these families, through weekly classes and conversations, in getting back to a working budget and self-sufficiency.
Ways to Help the Salvation Army
"Volunteers to be a receptionist at our offices could help from 10 a.m to 3 p.m. Monday to Thursday," Justice said. "Otherwise, currently financial donations to help compensate staff and purchase supplies is the biggest need." Kettles help raise funds year-round. The shelter is also seeking part-time monitors from 5:15 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. and 12 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. nightly.
Another way to help the organization is by donating items: travel-sized toiletries such as razors, shaving cream, deodorant, etc. For additional items that are occasionally updated, see the group's Facebook page: @SalvationArmyRichmondKY. Information is also posted on the website: http://salvationarmyrichmondky.org/.
Room in the Inn (RITI) of Berea
Room in the Inn began in Berea during the 2018-2019 winter. Barb Anspach and a group of about 15 committed individuals worked to start a program, based on a national model, of rotating shelters around the city of Berea. Volunteering churches, organizations and individuals made the first year possible, in which 268 beds were provided and more than 1,200 meals served.
The philosophy of the RITI organization is to provide a temporary shelter in which individuals are treated as guests. Part of their goal, as stated on the Facebook page, is "affirming the dignity and worth of each individual and extending hospitality and respect to all guests."
This year, shelter will be available starting Jan. 1, 2020. People seeking shelter will need to register at Grace Community Church, 138 Mary Street, Berea. Registration is between 5-5:45 p.m. Then, shelter guests will be escorted to that night's shelter location, usually on foot.
Throughout December, the group is also sponsoring dinners on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 6 p.m. at Grace Community Church.
Ways to help RITI Berea
Sierra Marlin, communications director for RITI of Berea, said that volunteer trainings have been happening, with more training dates to come. Dec. 2 is the next date for volunteer training. During these trainings, those willing to be "innkeepers" overnight or to assist with registration will learn safety measures from the Berea Police Department, learn basic operating procedures and even receive immunizations if needed.
Innkeepers (one male, one female) are needed to monitor the shelter each night. Police are assisting with running background checks on potential guests in order to ensure the greatest possible safety for everyone involved. "We need volunteers who can jump in and get their hands dirty," Marlin stated.
"People can donate through our website," Marlin said. "RITI Berea is all volunteer, so all donations go to fund dinners, shelter supplies and operating expenses." More information, including updated volunteer and donation needs, can be found on Facebook: @ritiBerea.
Room in the Inn (RITI) of Richmond
Following the same model as the RITI of Berea, several people have spearheaded the drive to begin a RITI in Richmond this year. Jamie Jordan, Associate Pastor of First United Methodist Church, is the founder of Room in the Inn Richmond. Jennifer Brubaker is also playing a key role, providing public outreach as well as assistance and training for volunteers.
Brubaker said she also coordinates the Warming Station at First Presbyterian Church in Richmond. This is "a daytime shelter program that runs January to March from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. when temperatures are below 49 degrees. It provides those in need with food, shelter, warm clothing, resources and fellowship."
Shelters will rotate among different locations throughout Richmond. Registration will take place at the RITI Richmond office, across from the courthouse.
Ways to help RITI of Richmond
The Facebook group, Room in the Inn Richmond Ky, posts frequent updates about the group, including volunteer training dates and current donation needs. They are looking for more volunteers to staff the shelters at night. They hope to operate between Dec. 1 and mid-March, if sufficient resources and volunteers are available.
People may deliver donations on Tuesdays starting on Dec. 3 from 2-7 p.m. Bring to them to RITI Richmond, on 2nd Street near the HUD office, across the street from the white courthouse building.
Ginny Rollins, a committee member for RITI of Richmond, said, "Mayor Robert Blythe and (City Manager) Rob Minerich have helped us immensely by offering RITI a free registration center where the homeless can check in each evening before they are taken to the host sites."
Some items the RITI of Richmond currently welcomes from the community are: standard-sized pillows and pillow cases, blankets, backpacks, winter coats and clothing, travel-size hygiene items, trash bags, cleaning wipes, bottled water, and towels. For more information, check the Facebook page, or email Jennifer Brubaker (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jamie Jordan (email@example.com).