The Shepherd’s House is in trouble. Due to a drastic downturn in donations and changes in the grant landscape, the homeless shelter that has been operating since 2003 may be faced with changing its operating structure or closing its doors.
“In the last two years, we have seen a $20,000 drop in contributions,” The Rev. Phil Goble Jr., Executive Director of the Greater Mount Airy Ministry of Hospitality (GMAMH), said recently. “We lost one $10,000 federal grant, and saw another one slashed in half. You add to that an increase in operating costs, and you have a recipe for disaster.”
The situation came to a head in recent weeks as final numbers for the year began settling in. The organization looked at its projected donation numbers – about $34,000 by the time the year ends – and combined that with changes in the Emergency Solutions Grant objectives and the cost of running the shelter the rest of the year and the the end result did not look good.
Now, the shelter is trying to make sure that it can stay open the rest of 2012 and beyond.
“That is going to be a big task,” Bob Meinecke, chairman of the GMAMH Board of Directors, said. “We need the prayers and help of our friends and neighbors so we can continue to keep the doors open to help people who find themselves hurting in these tough economic times.”
The hardest part of the current problem is the timing, Goble said. According to initial calculations, the Shepherd’s House will have around 45 days of operating capital at the end of June. That means the funds would run out about Aug. 15. That would not be so bad, except that the Shepherd’s House is also a United Fund of Surry agency. The United Fund begins its capital campaign on Aug. 17. On that date, United Fund agencies go into a fund raising blackout period until Thanksgiving.
“We are proud to be partners with United Fund of Surry,” Goble said. “They have done so much for The Shepherd’s House from allocating funding to sending work teams to help with facility upkeep. It is a relationship we do not want to do anything to harm. I have already spoken with Kate Appler, the United Fund executive director, and they are praying for us and encouraging us as we seek to shore up the Shepherd’s House.”
Appler was just as passionate about the need for the Shepherd’s House in the community as anyone.
“We appreciate the prayers and support of our friends at the United Fund of Surry, its board of directors, and all the people who give to the program.”
It costs approximately $17,300 to operate the shelter each month — an average of about $560 per day to house, feed, clothe, case manage, transport, counsel, and help the people who walk through its doors. The shelter is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
All of those factors have come together in what Meinecke described as a “perfect storm of financial issues” that led to the potentially catastrophic situation.
“The shelter has proven over and over just how much it helps people,” Meinecke said. “It has passed the test of time and we would hate to see our community lose such a valuable resource that has proven to provide help and comfort to so many.”
The Shepherd’s House was the dream of the late David Simmons.
“In the 1990s, Simmons shared a vision with friends of a place that could offer help, hope, and hospitality to the homeless and downtrodden in Surry County. Together, they started talking about The Shepherd’s House and what it could be,” said Goble.
They wanted a place that would help people with their physical and spiritual needs. According to one of the first brochures the group produced, the Shepherd’s House was “the result of various discussions and meetings held, along with many prayers which have been lifted up over the past four years by a number of groups and individuals in the community over the homeless situation.”
They found a place for the shelter, renting a house at 227 Rockford Street from Haymore Memorial Baptist Church, which became a very close friend and supporter, for $1 per year.
Then, the group fashioned a mission statement.
“Provide a 24-hour ministry for people in need of shelter and hospitality. Through on-going education, training, and discipleship, they will be prepared to meet their challenges with hope, healing and restoration. It is a place where God’s principles are taught and His love shared.”
The Greater Mount Airy Ministry of Hospitality, the group’s over-riding 501(c)3 carrier, was established to fulfill that goal.
From April 2003 to April 2012, that is exactly what the Shepherd’s House has been doing. In those first nine years, The Shepherd’s House has helped 1,200 people, including 689 women and 403 children. It has provided 31,282 nights of shelter and 93,846 meals in that span. Clients have come from Surry, Stokes, Yadkin, Wilkes, Forsyth counties in North Carolina, as well as Virginia and other states.
“The Shepherd’s House has a tremendous legacy,” Goble said. “We are quickly approaching 100,000 meals served and 32,000 nights of shelter since opening. It has helped women, children and families to not only heal from the hurt of lost jobs and lost homes, but find hope in tomorrow through God’s love and care. It has truly succeeded in its mission to make a difference, be a change-agent in the lives of people in need.”
Yet at this point, the shelter needs the help of the community.
“We cannot do it alone,” said Farah Davis, the board’s vice chairman. “We need everyone’s help and everyone’s prayers. No donation is too small. No gift will not help.”
The Shepherd’s House will begin a mail campaign and schedule fund raising events immediately. Groups interested in helping can create their own fundraiser or use Planet Green through Shepherd’s House.
Planet Green is a recycling program that comes with prepaid collection boxes. All that is needed is to fill the boxes up and drop them off at a UPS pick-up location. The Greater Mount Airy Ministry of Hospitality also has an online ink and toner cartridge purchase program with Planet Green. Those needing ink for printers or copiers can log onto www.planetgreen/gmamh and order supplies. The Shepherd’s House will receive a portion of the purchase price.
Monetary donations can also be sent to the shelter at P.O. Box 1722, Mount Airy, NC, 27030; or made online through the PayPal button on the GMAMH website at gmamh.org.
“We need your help,” Meinecke said. “Your neighbors need your help. Together, we can overcome this situation and be better and stronger, able to help more people. Please join with us as we seek to keep the doors open on The Shepherd’s House.”
Reach Mondee Tilley at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1930.