Faith and nonprofit communities are working together to provide safe, warm shelter
The C-U Men’s Shelter will operate from November 20, 2017 to March 31, 2018.
The shelter has a new home this year: New Covenant Fellowship Church, 124 W. White St, Champaign IL. It can shelter up to 30 men and will be open from 9:30pm to 8:00 am every day.
This winter the shelter will be operated by a new nonprofit organization, C-U Men’s Shelter. The nonprofit’s board includes members from several area churches, the Council of Service Providers to the Homeless, and United Way of Champaign County. This is the same group that joined together to provide shelter last winter.
Last winter the shelter served 111 unique men, with a nightly average of 20 men.
“We’re prepared to serve the community by providing a warm, clean place for men to stay during the winter months. Our congregation has a strong desire to help our neighbors who do not have a permanent home, and we’re humbled to be able to provide our space this winter.” said Renée Antrosio, Pastor at New Covenant Fellowship Church.
The shelter will have professional paid staff to oversee the day to day operations, and a strong relationship with local law enforcement to ensure the safety of all. However, volunteer support is still needed.
“We hope the community will support this shelter effort. We need volunteers to help provide pre-packaged snacks and drinks, set up and clean up. And we do need financial support. It costs about $14 to provide one person a night of shelter,” said Sheryl Palmer, shelter board member and Pastor at Faith United Methodist Church. To volunteer, visit CUVolunteer.org or contact Cory Blackwell, Associate Pastor at Faith United Methodist Church.
“There were a lot of challenges we had to work through to get this shelter ready – the biggest challenge of all is that state and federal funding just isn’t available for this kind of program. Another challenge was New Covenant had to modify their space to meet the fire code for shelters. There are a lot of factors involved in providing shelter. We have to be very mindful that we’re not just throwing open the doors – we’re meeting all local regulations and doing everything we can to provide a safe place.” said Beverley Baker, shelter board member and staff member at United Way of Champaign County.
Funding for this shelter has been provided by the local community, including grants from the City of Champaign, City of Urbana, Cunningham Township, and local Rotary clubs. Over a dozen local houses of worship have contributed financially. The cost to run the shelter is $3,000 a week - $428 a night –$14 to shelter one man for one night. The program budget covers professional staffing, insurance, repairs, cleaning and maintenance.