Valley Rescue Mission expanding to accommodate larger homeless p - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Valley Rescue Mission expanding to accommodate larger homeless population

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

A local homeless shelter said they were alarmed when they heard the news about a homeless victim being set on Fire on J. R. Allen Pkwy Tuesday evening, June 3. 

Incidents like this one presses Valley Rescue Mission to expand their facility so they can provide better help to more homeless individuals in the city.  

Valley Rescue Mission said they go on weekly outreaches to encourage as many homeless people as they can to visit shelters. Valley Rescue Mission wants to make sure residents avoid dangerous situations, fights and more by seeking nutritious meals and safe shelter throughout the days and nights.

To help more people, the shelter is working to expand their facilities this year.

Donna Pearce, Development Director of Valley Rescue Mission, said, "We know that as of January 2013, there were 960 homeless individuals who sought for our help, but we only have 340 shelter beds year around. You can see that we just do not have sufficient shelter beds to take care of all of our homeless population."

Damascus Way for women and children, one of the Valley Rescue Mission shelters, turned down 94 percent of homeless women and children asking for help in 2013. Pearce also said 18 women and children called asking for shelter at Damascus Way over the recent Memorial Day weekend, but all the beds were filled, and the homeless people had to find other shelters.

"No matter how desperate and heart breaking their stories are, we have folks who are already staying in the rooms and occupying the beds," Pearce explained. "We do our best to get them up their feet as quickly as possible, but it depends on the individuals and their situations."

Ed Key with Howard Mott Center for men also said the shelter turns away many people. However, Key said the shelter will be adding about fifteen more beds by July of 2014 to assist more of the homeless.

"We want to go from 36 beds to 50 beds," Key said. "I'm hoping this will happen by July. Of course, we have to make sure that extra shower space, toilets and other items are available to accommodate more people. This will help some of these guys work on their GED or help them find jobs. Each man is allowed to stay up to 90 days. If we increase the number of beds, then some of these guys will be allowed to stay longer."

Key said sometimes many homeless men will refuse to receive help from the shelter due to mental illnesses or addiction problems.

"But if we get more beds and a larger facility, we won't have to turn as many people as down when they actually come to us for help," Key explained.

Damascus Way is also trying to expand their facilities, but instead of adding beds, the center will also add another building. This new expansion will allow Damascus Way to accept twice as many women and children in the future.

"It might take few years," Pearce said. "We are collecting donations and we are looking for ways to raise money to speed up this process. The capital campaign is already in swing, and we started working on this campaign on the first of this year. We are calling the campaign ‘Shelter from the Storm'."

Adding more beds and rooms will allow more homeless people to stay longer.

Valley Rescue is also asking for donations of powdered laundry detergent, towels, pillows, blankets and bottled water, in addition to financial donations for their facility expansion. 

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