Shelter also offers hope

Anonymous donor will provide matching money for Beacon of Hope shelter

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Steve Roe, left, executive director of the Beacon of Hope men’s shelter, prays in the chapel with Johnathan Clark, who is living at the shelter. An anonymous donor is offering matching donations of up to $20,000 for those who donate to the Beacon of Hope through Christmas.

An anonymous donor wants to make the holiday season brighter for homeless men living at the Beacon of Hope shelter by offering a match of up to $20,000 for donations the shelter receives this season.

Steve Roe, executive director of the Beacon of Hope, said this donor will be offering a dollar for dollar match up to $20,000.

“When people are giving between now and Christmas, their money is doubled until we meet the $20,000,” he said.

All that money goes toward the shelter, located at 1021 First Ave. N.

Roe said the donations are important, because the shelter is entirely run on community support. The shelter does not receive any money from the government.

“It’s very important we stay community-oriented and so that’s why donations and stuff like this is so important to us,” he said. “We’re not going for the government money that other agencies so desperately need.”

Roe said they don’t accept government money because they are a faith-based shelter.

“No. 1, we are faith-based, and it’s all about Jesus Christ,” he said. “Being able to say that to you means we don’t take any government money. The Beacon of Hope does not take government money.”

He said many times, some in the community don’t understand exactly what the Beacon of Hope does, and he believes it’s important that the Fort Dodge community knows what the shelter is and how it helps get homeless men back on their feet.

“I think that’s one of the things people don’t understand: Who comes to the Beacon of Hope and who are we serving?” he said. “We serve people anywhere from 18 to elderly.”

Many times, Roe said the 18-year-olds have aged out of foster care and have nowhere to go but the shelter.

“We might be kind of parents to them to help them to be able to move foward, to be able to make plans for college,” Roe said. “We’ve actually had young men stay with us the whole period of time they went to Iowa Central Community College.”

Roe said they’ve also had parents of children with mental health ailments drop off their child at the shelter once they turn 18 with nothing but a garbage bag filled with clothing.

The Beacon of Hope makes sure those men get the help they need, he said.

“Getting them hooked up with Berryhill (Center) for mental health and getting them hooked up with social workers and getting them on their meds and forward to get housing,” he said.

They also accept elderly men who can’t afford housing.

But Roe said the largest population the Beacon of Hope serves are the mentally handicapped.

“That’s people coming straight out of mental facilities,” he said. “We have people that are actually sent to us from a hospital. We’ve had guys come in with a tag on them that said, ‘Could hurt themselves.'”

Many times, the Beacon of Hope’s beds are the only beds available to those who struggle with mental health.

Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich said the Beacon of Hope is an important asset to Fort Dodge. He said every community wishes that everybody that lived there had somewhere to stay.

“You don’t want people to be homeless in your community. You want them to have a place to live and jobs, but it happens,” he said. “The service they provide is an important one from keeping people in an unsafe environment.”

“I think the service they’re providing is something we definitely have a need for in our community,” Bemrich added. “They’re fulfilling that.”

Roe said that there are stereotypes about the men who live at the shelter.

“Some people believe that homeless people are just lazy drug addicts, alcoholics,” he said. “Do you have some that are? Yes, a portion of that is true. But the greatest need is for mentally-handicapped people and people coming out of foster care.”

There are strict rules for those living at the shelter. One is that the men who live there must work.

“They’re required to put in so many hours a week, working for the Beacon, giving back, cleaning, cooking, to working in our woodship, making stuff to put on the floor to sell,” Roe said. “The guys are very busy too.”

The Beacon’s curfew is 5 p.m.

What drives the purpose of the Beacon of Hope is its Christian faith, Roe said.

“I would say the greatest mission that we have, though, is to always serve the gospel and to build the kingdom,” he said. “In our country today, that is a part that is being shut off from us.

“If I have any opportunity to ever speak publicly, it’s about our mission,” Roe said. “It’s about Jesus and that, through Him, there is healing. We see a lot of men have recovery by just spiritually coming to Jesus.”

To donate to the Beacon of Hope

Those who want to donate to the Beacon of Hope are asked to send money to the shelter at 1021 First Ave. N.