Janesville72°

Shelter preparing for more men

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Shelly Birkelo
September 28, 2012

— Organizers of the GIFTS shelter expect to house more homeless men this winter than last year.

"Given the economy right now, we can only assume our numbers will continue to do what they've done in the past, and that's increase. That's just the reality, right now," said Stephanie Burton, executive director of God is Faithful Temporary Shelter.

GIFTS' new season begins Monday, Oct. 7, and ends April 27.

Other shelters in the community have waiting lists and have been turning away men because they don't take single males, Burton said.

"So, we can only anticipate our numbers are going to maintain or increase," she said.

Burton and board members have begun a strategic plan to look at GIFTS' history, goals, strengths and weaknesses.

"Our greatest strength is our churches and the volunteers," Burton said.

They recognize some areas need improvement.

"It's difficult to work with the guys and try to connect them with the services they need when they check in at 6 at night then get up the next morning and are out by 7:30," she said.

"So we need to look at how we can do that better, even though there's been excellent efforts in the past. It's just a matter of sheer time when we operate with volunteers,'' she said.

GIFTS would like to get more churches to join the ministry so it can extend its shelter season.

"The cold nights started a couple weeks ago. It's scary and dangerous," Burton said.

"We always try to start as close to the beginning of October and go into April," she said.

The Salvation Army will be a new host site, and Rock Prairie Presbyterian Church is a new church partner. A couple churches that stepped away from GIFTS for various reasons are coming back, enabling GIFTS to operate two weeks longer this shelter season.

"It's very important to be able to go as long as we can. It's also important to fill in those weeks during winter," Burton said.

GIFTS started in 2007 and rotates weekly between Janesville churches. It has room for 25 men but during the winter sometimes surpasses that number, she said.

"If GIFTS wasn't in existence, these people would be on the street, and that's life-threatening for them," Burton said.

GIFTS is planning a fundraiser and hopes to become a United Way partner agency.

"As we move forward in our planning, that's going to be a big part of creating an operating budget and coming up with the resources we need to be who we're going to be," she said.

"It's going to take money."

GIFTS SHELTER HOSTS

The following churches will host or help with the GIFTS shelter during the 2012-13 season:

Oct. 7-13: Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, 2130 Mt. Zion Ave., host site; Milton Seventh Day Baptist Church, partner church.

Oct. 14–20: Cargill United Methodist Church, 2000 Wesley Ave., host site; Emerald Grove United Church of Christ and Edgerton United Methodist Church, partner churches.

Oct. 21–27: St. Mary's Catholic Church, 313 E. Wall St., host site.

Oct. 28–Nov. 3: St. William Catholic Church, 1822 Ravine St., host site; River Hills Community Church, partner church.

Nov. 4–10: Asbury United Methodist Church, 1810 Kellogg Ave., host site; St. Peter's Lutheran Church and St. Patrick Catholic Church, partner churches.

Nov. 11–17: St. John Lutheran Church, 302 N. Parker Drive, host site; Hope Lutheran Church, partner church.

Nov. 18–24: Church of Christ, 2103 Roxbury Road, host site; Footville Church of Christ, partner church.

Nov. 25–Dec. 1: Trinity Episcopal Church, 419 E. Court St., host site; First Lutheran Church, partner church.

Dec. 2–8: Trinity Episcopal Church, 419 E. Court St., host site; First Lutheran Church, partner church.

Dec. 9-15: Emmanuel Free Methodist Church, 4224 Whilden Court, host site; Milton United Methodist Church, partner church.

Dec. 16–22: St. John Vianney Catholic Church, 1245 Clark St., host site.

Dec. 23–29: St. John Vianney Catholic Church, 1245 Clark St., host site.

Dec. 30–Jan. 5: Salvation Army, 514 Sutherland Ave., host site; Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, partner church.

Jan. 6–12: Faith Community Church, 2931 Lucerne Drive, host site.

Jan. 13–19: Bethel Baptist Church, 3300 Mt. Zion Ave., host site.

Jan. 20–26: St. Mary's Catholic Church, 313 E. Wall St., host site.

Jan. 27–Feb. 2: Church of Christ, 2103 Roxbury Road, host site; Footville Church of Christ, partner church.

Feb. 3–9: Janesville Wesleyan Church, 967 Benton Ave., host site; First Congregational United Church of Christ, partner church.

Feb. 10-16: Janesville Wesleyan Church, 967 Benton Ave., host site; St. John Vianney Catholic Church, partner church.

Feb. 17-23: Emmanuel Free Methodist Church, 4224 Whilden Court, host site; Milton United Methodist Church and Rock Prairie Presbyterian Church, partner churches.

Feb. 24–March 2: St. John Lutheran Church, 302 N. Parker Drive, host site; Hope Lutheran Church, partner church.

March 3–9: Cargill United Methodist Church, 2000 Wesley Ave., host site; Emerald Grove United Congregational Church and Edgerton United Methodist Church, partner churches.

March 10-16: Bethel Baptist Church, 3300 Mt. Zion Ave., host site.

March 17-23: Janesville Wesleyan Church, 967 Benton Ave., host site.

March 24–30: St. William Catholic Church, 1822 Ravine St., host site; River Hills Community Church, partner church.

March 31–April 6: Faith Community Church, 2931 Lucerne Drive, host site.

April 7–13: Asbury United Methodist Church, 1810 Kellogg Ave., host site; St. Peter's Lutheran Church and St. Patrick's Catholic Church, partner churches.

April 14-20: Cargill United Methodist Church, 2000 Wesley Ave., host site; St. John Vianney Catholic Church, partner church.

April 21-27: Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, 2130 Mt. Zion Ave., host site; Milton Seventh Day Baptist Church, partner church.



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