I don’t know if it reaches the magnitude of a moral dilemma, but I feel for the Frog Level merchants who appeared before the Waynesville town board recently. They came seeking help in dealing with the patrons of The Open Door soup kitchen that’s located in the historic business district.
The soup kitchen clientele, needless to say, are the most needy among us — some are poverty-stricken, others suffer from mental health issues, others have drug and alcohol problems — and so it is bound to come off as callous if you say you want to be rid of them.
Spend a few hours on the streets in Frog Level, and the heartwarming stories flow like water.
Theoretically, a new homeless shelter that opened across town in Hazelwood last fall should have made things better for Frog Level’s homeless plight.
Teri Siewert picked up a pink Hello Kitty alarm clock by the cord and dragged it out from under the bushes behind her classy art gallery on the outskirts of downtown Waynesville.
“You wouldn’t believe the stuff we find,” she said. “You’ll see wine bottles, you’ll see beer bottles, you’ll see discarded clothing.”
If all goes according to plan, Jackson County could have a permanent homeless shelter up and running by April.
That “if,” though, is a big one. Jackson Neighbors in Need hopes to get commissioners’ approval to lease the old rescue squad building on Main Street just past Mark Watson Park and below the Jackson County Library for $1 per year. Then, it will need to raise tens of thousands of dollars to fund renovations and operational expenses, as well as drum up lots of volunteer support.
Dinnertime came a little late at Haywood Pathways Center Sunday night (Jan. 4), but for all the right reasons. It was the inaugural night for The Open Door’s Hazelwood kitchen, the final piece in turning the dream behind the Pathways Center into reality.
“It might be a few minutes before we get to the pork chops,” said Jeremy Parton, Haywood Pathways’ newly hired kitchen and shelter director. “They might be a little cold, but that’s going to be OK, because there’s not going to be another night like this.”
For the past four years, Jackson County Neighbors in Need has been footing the bill to put people lacking winter shelter up in motel rooms for the night, but the group is on the lookout for the perfect facility to serve as a central shelter before the winter gets much deeper.
“We haven’t been able to get into a shelter facility of our own which we are very much hoping to do because it’s very expensive to lodge people in a motel,” said Veronica Nicholas, co-chair of the Neighbors in Need shelter committee.
Things have been moving quickly for New Hope Center in Franklin. Just a few months ago, the homeless shelter was merely a vague idea in the back of Lowell Monteith’s mind, an awareness that there was a need for some way to help the homeless of Macon County. He’d first witnessed the need during his time at Lifespring Community Church, where he and his wife used to run a soup kitchen.
At T-minus three days until the scheduled opening day for Haywood Pathways Center, Nick Honerkamp still wasn’t sure how to answer the big question: will the shelter open?
“That is the question of the week,” said Honerkamp, one of the leaders of the effort, Wednesday (Nov. 12) morning.
By Jake Flannick • SMN Correspondent
Haywood County leaders have all but signed off on plans by a pair of faith-based groups running social service ministries in the county to convert a defunct state prison into a homeless shelter and halfway house.