XENIA — The homeless shelter inside the Christ Episcopal Church was able to open on time this year thanks to some volunteers and the Xenia Area Association of Churches and Ministries.
The Rev. Lynn Sinnott was going through her regular process of prepping the parish hall when a routine fire inspection turned up several items that needed to be addressed before the shelter could open. It’s the eighth year the shelter has been open, but for some reason previous inspections were only church related.
“We have to meet a higher level of safety regulations,” Sinnott said.
The shelter areas were lacking exit signs, fire extinguishers and the building needed additional smoke detectors. It cost $2,000 to bring everything up to code. It may not sound like a lot but it is.
“It adds up, boy, does it add up,” Sinnott said. “We couldn’t do it. (XAACM) took it upon themselves. They collected the money to pay for all of this. Their generosity … has just been amazing. I can’t say enough. (This) is a ministry that has complete community support. It was kind of mind-numbingly overwhelming.”
In addition, items that were placed in the basement for storage needed to be moved.
“(Volunteers) came in and cleared out mountains of stuff to make it habitable,” Sinnott said.
The shelter operates through March 15. It is open 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and can accommodate up to 20 people. It has two full-time staff — Paula Lowe and Rick Bayliss — and a slew of volunteers, according to Sinnott.
While there are the space limitations, Sinnott said they won’t turn people away, especially when the weather is bitterly cold or there’s a day when there is nowhere else to go to escape the cold.
Sinnott said the shelter initiated a new program that requires those staying at the shelter for a week to seek the help of area agencies like TCN Behavioral Health Services. The goal is to make sure those who use the shelter are making strides toward finding work and a permanent place to live.
“We do what we can,” Sinnott said.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.