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Volunteers go a long way to making shelter a reality

April 11, 2010
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer

Living in Dodge makes me downright happy. Amazed and happy.

Amazed because of the generosity shown to so many causes, such as the Beacon of Hope homeless men's shelter being set up in the former Masonic Lodge.

Turning the building into a shelter took more than a change in name on the front door. Lots of cosmetic changes had to be made, and each one of those changes took time and energy. And volunteer help.

Beulah Torgerson, a member of St. Olaf Lutheran Church, has been at the shelter every day since the changeover began, cleaning windows and floors, washing woodwork and scraping paint. She even cleaned the stove in the kitchen.

Steve Roe, the man behind the shelter, calls her "a servant of God."

She grins when he says that, and replies only, "it gets me out of my home to do something for the community. My mom always told me, 'You don't say no.'"

So, when she heard of the need for volunteer help, she showed up immediately. And, she added, "I hope to volunteer in the kitchen, if they'll have me. Two days a week."

I'm pretty darn sure they'll have her.

Another every-day volunteer is Jim Jasper, of Fort Dodge. He is, unfortunately, between jobs, but has brought a work ethic to shame most people to the shelter and his volunteer work there.

"He comes every day and unlocks the door at 8 o'clock so people can come in to clean," Roe said.

Jasper said he's just "doing the Lord's work." He looked around the shelter and added, "You'll never hear there's no room in the inn here."

That's just two individuals. There are more. Many more. Churches and businesses, too.

St. Olaf Lutheran Church called a special meeting after hearing that a shelter was planned, with members voting to donate a large amount of start-up funds, Roe said. The shelter is still $150,000 shy of what's needed to bring the building up to code, including money for a sprinkler system and for bathrooms.

Dodgen Industries in Humboldt has pledged to make bunkbeds for the shelter, Roe said. "Target has actually adopted us. We've gotten three truckloads from them." Best Western Starlite Village Inn & Suites donated 90 blankets just four months old, and the women of First Presbyterian Church have donated about 30 quilts.

"Businesses who are partnering with us are giving us a break," Roe said.

His goal, he said, is simple. "I want to start with getting 1,000 people who would be willing to pledge $10 a month and go from there. In a town of 25,000 people, that's a small number."

But look at it this way: if 5,000 people each pledged $5 a month or everyone in town pledged $1 a month, money problems would be over at the shelter. Five thousand $5 bills would be $25,000 a month. So would 25,000 $1 bills. A thousand people giving $10 would be less, so let's just go for 5,000 people pledging $5 a month to the shelter.

Call Roe if you're willing to do that, to be part of a community cause that's incredibly necessary. His number is 571-6636. Any kind of donation would be valued.

And think of how Dodge would look in the eyes of other cities in Iowa. We'd rock.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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