Beyond Homeless assists folks with more than safe haven

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Beyond Homeless Inc. (BHI) Executive Director Tanis Monday reports that through the end of August, BHI has provided shelter for 26 adult women and 12 children. The community shelter for homeless women and children opened its doors in April of this year.

Currently, there are 10 women and six children living in the shelter. In addition, BHI has supplied motel vouchers for 11 nights of shelter for homeless men.

The average length of stay for residents is 33 days.

In addition to Monday, the shelter has two part-time paid staff. Nearly 30 local people are active volunteer staff members, providing an average of 175 hours of service per month.

Monday noted that the shelter is "a safe, secure place from which residents can work toward changing their lives without worrying where they will sleep that night or where their next meal is coming from."

But BHI provides more than three meals a day and a bed for the night. Residents work closely with staff to develop an independent living plan, setting weekly goals which, when met, keep them moving forward toward achieving their long-term goals.

Often, they connect with local agencies that have partnered with BHI to provide services and educational opportunities at the shelter.

Family Support Services, Teachers Credit Union, CareNet Pregnancy, Putnam County Library, Center for Women's Ministries and Purdue Extension have all offered such opportunities. Staff members continue to strengthen this area of programming. These connections and additional resources are considered vital to the success of the residents.

Many residents lack employment when they arrive, and getting -- and keeping -- a job is an important immediate goal. Everyone has access to computers and the local newspaper to assist in the search for employment opportunities.

In addition to an address and a phone number to use for contact information, BHI provides direct assistance to applicants in resume building and preparing for an interview. Staff members also serve as personal references. More than a third of the residents have found employment while here.

The goal at Beyond Homeless is to provide residents with the skills and the confidence to return to the larger community as productive citizens.

Each resident comes with her own unique story. Recently one young woman arrived with her child, needing shelter. Unable to live with friends any longer, she needed a place to stay while getting her life back on track. She had no family or friends to turn to.

She stayed at the shelter for about a month while she applied for countless jobs. With persistence and support she found a full-time position with benefits. She was able to move out to her own place, loves her job, and is doing very well, Monday said.

The staff and residents of the shelter are grateful for the support the shelter has received from individuals and community institutions.

Later this year Beyond Homeless will launch a general fundraising drive so that it might continue to provide quality assistance to those in need in our community, especially in the coming winter months.

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