Lawrence Salvation Army officials hope to keep local homeless people off the streets and off the bottle on weekends this summer by reopening the charity organization's shelter Friday and Saturday nights.
The Salvation Army received a long-awaited $22,260 grant this week from the Kansas Emergency Shelter Grant program, allowing the shelter service to continue at least part time.
Beginning this weekend, local homeless people again can enjoy a hot meal and a soft mattress in the gym of the Salvation Army facility at 946 N.H. But not if they're drunk, said Capt. George Windham.
"Fridays and Saturdays traditionally are the nights some of the guys will go out and drink it up," he said. "You use this as kind of a wedge and say, `If you get boozed up, you can't come in.'"
Windham also hopes to accommodate two single women who had to leave the shelter when it closed May 1.
The grant allots $1,000 for movable partitions to create "privacy areas" for women and any families who need shelter in the gym.
The grant also allows $12,000 for a walk-in refrigerator. "We get so much food donated to us that requires immediate freezing or cooling that we need the cooler," Windham said.
The shelter usually is open between November and April. Salvation Army officials applied for the grant in September, hoping to keep the shelter open year-round.
While the shelter will be open summer weekends, running it every night would conflict with a children's day camp planned for the gym over the summer, said Windham.
Jim McDonald, shelter director, said he expected about 25 to 30 people to use the shelter over the weekends. "We've still got the same people sleeping out in the street as we had sleeping here when the shelter was open," he said.
The Salvation Army received $7,310 from the grant to help pay for job placement services for shelter residents. Windham said some of the money will augment McDonald's salary.
"Jim has already done a lot for the men in terms of helping them find jobs and getting them there," he said.
Windham also hopes to buy stackable cots with the $1,750 from the grant to replace mattresses used for sleeping on the gym floor.