GIFTS to open new resource center, office Monday

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Shelly Birkelo
Tuesday, October 1, 2013

JANESVILLE—GIFTS Men's Shelter has been given the gift of space for a new office and resource center at Trinity Episcopal Church.

Doors open Monday in the church's Ortmayer Hall, 419 E. Court St.

The opening is in conjunction with the 2013-14 shelter season that rotates weekly from church to church in Janesville. The season lasts from the first week of October through the last week of April, said Stephanie Burton, GIFTS executive director.

“This donation (of office space) is huge," she said. "We don't have the budget to be able to afford our own space right now so wouldn't be able to move forward and focus on your mission without Trinity's gift.”

Father Robert Lebron explained the mutual shared lease agreement, which will be reviewed every 90 days.

“Our vision statement is 'Love God, Love People, Show It!' and that's what we're trying to do,” he said.

“We are committed to homeless ministry and along with the other churches host the shelter. But we wanted to see this go further,” said Lebron of the GIFTS mission, which got its start at the East Court Street church.

“There'd be nothing better than to see many of these men become independent with their own places to live and means of income," Lebron added. "We have the space and we have a responsibility because we have the resource to share this space that is not being used for anything else."

GIFTS is grateful, Burton said.

“This is helping GIFTS be able to fulfill our mission; first to provide shelter and secondly by helping guests change their lives,” she said. 

When guests arrive at the resource center/office they'll sign in and be greeted by a volunteer at the hospitality desk. The volunteer then will give them tours of the three-room facility.

In addition to bathroom/shower facilities, shelter visitors will have access to two computers, printers and desks. A waiting room features a pot of hot coffee, bookshelves with Bibles and other reading materials, and brochures from other agencies that focus on resources in the community. A basic needs closet full of clothes and hygiene products also will be available to those who have nothing.

“This is a place to come and put a plan together to help regain footing in society,” Burton said.

The third room decorated with a table, chairs and large rug offers a quiet, confidential space for GIFTS' volunteers to meet one-on-one with homeless guests to create life-improvement plans, Burton said.

“Our main goal was to provide a safe, controlled, Christian environment that allows our guest to respectfully regain footing in society,” she said.

This new resource center accomplishes that. Burton had been working out a small office in the Janesville Foundation building on North Parker Drive.

But Burton noted that GIFTS' stay at Trinity is temporary.

“As soon as we get up and running, I will start researching other locations” to permanently house GIFTS' shelter, resource center and office.

In the meantime, “GIFTS is relishing its gift to our ministry, our guys and our community,” she said.

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