Garden City A lack of money and volunteers has forced a western Kansas homeless shelter to close on weekends and holidays.
Emmaus House in Garden City closed for the Fourth of July weekend and now shuts down during the day on weekends, director Robin Marsh said. The facility now serves as a food pantry, soup kitchen, emergency shelter and homeless shelter.
Pat Allsbury, executive director of Stepping Stone Shelter in Liberal, told The Garden City Telegram that she’s asking the community to reconsider having a shelter there.
“People don’t choose when they get to be homeless, so shelters shouldn’t choose when they’re open,” she said.
Emmaus House, which has seen a 48 percent drop in donations, would stay open 24 hours a day if it had the resources, Marsh said. It has three full-time employees, and a few overnight volunteers.
“They do a wonderful job, but like everyone else, they need a break,” Marsh said.
The full-time staff works from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Fridays, and volunteers are there at night. The shelter closes on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
The break allows workers and volunteers spend time with their families and lets Emmaus House guests get out in the community, Marsh said. She suggested guests get involved at a church, spend time with friends, visit the public library or take part in some recreational activities around town.
“Garden City is a wonderful community,” Marsh said.
This year has been particularly tough for Emmaus House as donations have fallen.
“I’ve worked here for 11 years, and I’ve never seen donations so bare and volunteers so few,” Marsh said.
The shelter also has struggled to attract volunteers, possibly because some people might be unfamiliar and nervous with the house guests, Marsh said.
The shelter requires guests to get a police referral before being admitted and keeps tabs on their efforts to find jobs.