Lawrence Salvation Army officials plan to keep the organization's homeless shelter open on weekends this summer despite a lower than expected turnout Friday and Saturday, the first weekend of the summer season.
Only five people slept at the shelter Friday night and 11 used it Saturday night, said Jim McDonald, shelter director. The shelter averaged 33 homeless people each night during the winter.
"I figured we'd get about 20 to 25," McDonald said. "I imagine that as the summer goes on, things will pick up, though."
Salvation Army officials decided last week to reopen the shelter on weekends this summer after learning the charity organization had received a long-awaited $22,260 state grant for shelter operations.
The shelter located in the gym of the Salvation Army's facility at 946 N.H. is usually open between November and April. It closed this year on April 30.
The low turnout won't change their plans, said Capt. George Windham. "We made that commitment and we'll stay by it," he said. "There are still some people around who need it."
Some of the usual shelter residents were pleased to find the shelter open, said McDonald. "Some of them are nervous about being on the streets the whole time," he said.
Keeping the shelter open also will allow the Salvation Army officials to keep in touch with shelter regulars and keep track of their situations, Windham said.
He attributed the low turnout to the sudden decision to reopen the shelter. "I just don't think word had a chance to get around," he said.
McDonald said he thought many of the usual shelter residents already had moved on or made other sleeping arrangements.
McDonald said plans are in the works to purchase a walk-in freezer, privacy partitions and 15 new cots using the grant funds made available through the Kansas Emergency Shelter Grant program.