Despite an on-going shortage of resources and the need for a permanent solution, the Hospitality Center at St. Luke’s will provide overnight shelter services through the end of the winter.
“No one is going to be hurt or die outside this winter,” Rev. Kevin Stewart said. “We are not closing.”
He made the announcement to shelter participants Saturday morning at the Hospitality Center.
Whether or not the Hospitality Center would continue providing overnight emergency shelter was very much up in the air earlier this week when Stewart told participants that Saturday would be the last night he would be open to help them.
“We have capacity issues at the church, and the need continues to rise as evidenced by serving 73 individuals – including 2 families – so far this winter,” he said at the time. “As much as I dream about being open 24/7 because someone always needs a sandwich and/or a place to stay, we just aren’t capable of doing that now.”
But since Monday, Stewart has received an outpouring of support from nearly every corner of the greater Racine community; individuals, agencies, companies, and churches. He has been approached about potential buildings that could serve as a more permanent home and welcomed countless donations of clothes, volunteers willing and able to staff the overnight hours, food and much-needed cash.
“I have been inundated with calls and emails offering support,” Stewart said. “We are so blessed to be in a community with such an open and generous heart.”
Contributions of cash, food, and supplies – including volunteers who are now on the overnight supervision schedule and word of a $10,000 donation – enable Stewart to keep operating until the end of March.
Still, housing individuals overnight at the Hospitality Center is a stop-gap, and he stressed that a permanent solution is needed.
“Staying open solves the immediate problem and saves lives,” Stewart stated. “Now the work begins for a long-term solution, and that starts with a community conversation.”