A remodeling project at the Beacon of Hope Shelter in Fort Dodge is going to mean an expansion of the facility's capacity from 40 men to 52.
According to Director Steve Roe, the 12 new beds located on the upper floor will be about more than just more space. The new lodgings will house the Men in Training group - residents who are nearing the end of their stay.
"We have a group that is ready to move on," Roe said.
Beacon of Hope Shelter Chaplain Eric Howard, left, and Annette Howard, ministry coordinator, look over a room that will become a sleeping area on the upper floor of the shelter Wednesday morning. Much work, including kitchen remodeling, dining room improvements and room for an addition 12 men to sleep is under way.
According to Roe, the goal of the shelter and the group is simple.
"We want them to stop thinking about themselves and start thinking about others." he said.
To that end, the men work in the shelter and the shelter partners with local businesses to help the men obtain outside work.
"We want to make sure they can keep their job," he said.
Getting to that point can take time, Roe said residents stay anywhere from a few months to more than a year.
Healing can be a long process.
"The men come here because they're just plain broken in spirit," he said.
He said that being homeless is also a condition of loneliness; many also develop problems with drugs and alcohol to help fill that void.
Shelter Chaplain Eric Howard said that life at the shelter is letting them recover.
"We want to provide an environment where they can heal," he said.
Ministry Coordinator Annette Howard shares his sentiment.
"Their hearts and minds need renewal," she said. "We give them the tools to live."
That also requires shelter.
The new dorm room will also feature its own shower, recreation room, handicap accessible shower and bathroom. The building is also being outfitted with something it never had before - air conditioning.
"We've had no air conditioning since we bought the building," he said. "We'll have central air when the project is done."
It's needed. The shelter has partnered with the nearby St. Olaf Lutheran Church during heat waves to let the residents sleep there.
Another area of need being taken care of is the shelter kitchen.
"The kitchen will be gutted," Roe said. "We'll have a walk-in cooler, a new stove and work surfaces."
The shelter currently partners with First Methodist for one night a week and St. Olaf the rest of the time to provide a place to prepare meals.
"That's been a huge blessing," Roe said.
The project is expensive, Roe said. The stove hood alone is going to cost $20,000, bringing the elevator to code is $40,000 and the sprinkler system being installed, another $60,000.
Roe said he is still amazed at the need for the shelter's services - he's had close to 300 men through the shelter since it opened its doors in December 2010. He would like to try to expand into family housing.
"It's our next biggest need," he said.
Roe said the best way for the community to help is to become a partner with the shelter.
"Partner with us," he said. "This isn't mine - it's God's - we're here to serve."
Annette Howard said they also need donations and volunteers for the day-to-day operation.
"We need everything a home needs," she said.
After all, for the men who live there, it is home.
October Homeless Awareness Events.
Oct. 6 Beacon of Hope Benefit Concert at First United Methodist Church featuring 4 His Love. Proceeds benefit the Beacon of Hope Shelter.
First week of October - Brother Can You Spare a Dime? Iowa Central Community College students and Beacon of Hope residents will collect door to door.
Oct. 26 - Think Inside the Box. Iowa Central Community College students will spend the night outside in boxes to raise awareness of homelessness, 3 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.
For more information on volunteering at the Beacon of Hope Shelter, donating food, clothing or money or partnering a business, contact Annette Howard at 302-4128