I received a call July 1 from a concerned citizen of Garden City. It seems that yet again your Emmaus House was closing for the holiday. They were to close on Thursday, July 2 and re-open on Tuesday, July 7, a full five days. Since you have nowhere else for the homeless to go, some are brought to Liberal to The Stepping Stone Shelter. Sometimes it is Salvation Army of Garden City and other times it is concerned citizens who deliver these homeless individuals to us. You see, during a holiday, one cannot be homeless in Garden City.
When this happens it seems at least one person is brought to us because they have nowhere else to go and we never close. We were not informed that people only need help on certain days, at certain hours or when it is convenient for us.
We get no funding from Garden City or Finney County to take the "outcasts" for them. But we continue to be open and operating every single day.
We run a 30-day, plus-minus residential shelter 24 hours per day, every day for 365 days per year. We serve three hot meals every day to both our residents and walk-ins that need a meal. More than 20,000 meals were served in 2008 and 13,500 so far this year. These are meals served in our building prepared by our paid staff. After our building expansion, we have about 700 square feet of dining room to accommodate up to 50 people per meal.
We furnish bedding, personal hygiene items and clothing while residents are living with us. Laundry facilities are on site and are also free. While we run a 24-hour shelter, we have paid employees and volunteers. We currently employ five full-time employees (including director) and four part-time employees. That includes a case manager to assist with applications for housing, employment, Social Security cards, state issued ID, Medicaid, medical appointments and other assistance as needed.
Although the costs involved with both the building (utilities, insurances, supplies, food, etc.) and staffing (wages, paid vacation, unemployment insurance, payroll taxes, etc.) are huge, we continue to operate on a budget of $180,000 per year. Our electric bill alone is $785 per month average billing.
I'm not asking for your financial help so much as I am asking you to re-evaluate the shelter you have. Maybe it is not meeting the needs of the community that you believe it is.
Allsbury is the executive director of Stepping Stone Shelter, 1015 N. Washington in Liberal.