Archive for Saturday, December 29, 2012

Lawrence Community Shelter moves into new home

December 29, 2012


If moving day is an exciting, but complicated, event for most of us, imagine what it's like for a homeless shelter with 120 people living in it.

That long-awaited day finally came Saturday for the Lawrence Community Shelter, moving into its new home at the eastern edge of Lawrence. A bus borrowed from the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence helped carry the shelter's guests from the old building at 10th and Kentucky streets to the new one, located in a converted warehouse space at 3701 Franklin Park Circle. Together with others who hadn't been able to find room at the old location, 120 people moved into the new shelter Saturday, said Loring Henderson, director of the shelter.

The Lawrence Community Shelter's new location at 3701 Franklin Park Circle, on the eastern edge of Lawrence. The shelter's 120 guests moved into the converted warehouse space Saturday, from the former location at 10th and Kentucky Streets.

The Lawrence Community Shelter's new location at 3701 Franklin Park Circle, on the eastern edge of Lawrence. The shelter's 120 guests moved into the converted warehouse space Saturday, from the former location at 10th and Kentucky Streets.

By noon, the guests were finding their way around their new place, tracking down misplaced bags, grousing over new sleeping arrangements, and experiencing all the little trials that go along with a big move.

"Lots of lumps, as with any first day," Henderson said while stacking up boxes in the lobby. "We call it normal."

Several guests stopped Henderson in the hallways to compliment the new shelter, which houses 50 more people than the previous one and, for the first time, will offer three meals a day, seven days a week. With more than 7,000 additional square feet in the shelter’s living and working areas, there will be space for private rooms for families, a medical clinic staffed by volunteers, and more showers, lockers and laundry machines.

While some guests were still sleeping on mats Saturday, all will eventually have beds at the new shelter. It also has 10,000 square feet of vacant warehouse space that it plans to use for job training programs and partnerships with businesses in the future.

The shelter's move, and the renovations to the building that made it possible, were paid for through a capital campaign that raised about $3.3 million for the project. The project received a $540,000 grant from the Mabee Foundation in Tulsa, Okla., but the bulk of the money came from local donors.

Individual donors also provided a large set of picture windows that lets sunshine into the new shelter's dining room, and a flat-screen television where, Henderson said, the guests might watch KU basketball and the Super Bowl.

Jade Vargas, of Lawrence, has been a guest of the shelter for several weeks and spent Saturday volunteering at the front desk, taking calls and greeting newcomers. He heard mostly positive reactions, he said, and said the added laundry and shower facilities and greater sleeping space than the previous building were among the most important new benefits.

"We were so packed in down there, it was insane," he said.

A long walk from downtown

Things will be different at the new location, even beyond the added facilities.

The shelter will stop serving as a community drop-in center. At its downtown location, it served as a place where anybody could drop in and get off the streets for the day. Here, only people who have committed to a shelter program and actively work to get out of homelessness will be allowed to stay.

The one drawback that some guests, including Vargas at the front desk, pointed to was the new shelter's location at the edge of the city.That's a long walk from downtown, and it includes a stretch of Kansas Highway 10 that isn't as safe to walk on as a city street. But the city has added a bus route that stops by the shelter once per hour, and the shelter also has a van and a volunteer driver that guests can sign up for rides with.

Rik Fawcett, 32, has been a guest of the shelter for 16 months and he never agreed with the location, but he did approve of most other aspects of the new facility, which incorporated many of his and other guests' ideas from the planning stage. As someone who worked as a contractor and has experienced homelessness in Chicago, Baltimore and Miami, Fawcett said he had made an effort to be involved in planning the renovations.

The guests' suggestions had included choosing the most sturdy furniture possible to hold up to inevitable wear and tear, and setting aside private space for families. The nine families and 22 children at the shelter are housed apart from groups of single men and women, all coming from different backgrounds.

"We're going to miss having the kids around" he said. "But there are sometimes bad apples around, setting bad examples for them."

Many of the guests had other anxieties on Saturday, he said, because long-standing personal routines were being disrupted. A couple of guests were ultimately unwilling to make the move, preferring to stay outdoors in the downtown area. With the cold winter weather that has come to Lawrence, Fawcett said, he worried about them.

"That's not a good call," he said. "That's going to weigh on my mind."


candaceflynn 5 years, 3 months ago

Are they going to do anything to prevent people from the shelter loitering around the Prairie Park Neighborhood?

Catalano 5 years, 3 months ago

Why would they want to loiter around the Prairie Park neighborhood to begin with? What's that neighborhood got that's so special?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 3 months ago

I suspect the poster is concerned about crimes of opportunity. The Prairie Park neighborhood now being the place where such opportunity exists.

Catalano 5 years, 3 months ago

What's the opportunity? I think you guys are profiling and know nothing about how the new shelter is going to operate.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 3 months ago

"What's the opportunity?"

Doors left unlocked. Windows open. Car doors unlocked. That sort of thing.

If you're suggesting that profiling is wrong, I would agree if the profiling were done on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, etc. But if I profile people who have engaged in more criminal activity than average, then I would say such profiling is nothing more than common sense. I would no more trust an unlocked door to a neighborhood full of shelter residents than I would trust my retirement account to Bernie Madoff.

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 3 months ago

Why on earth would people in Prairie Park have been leaving their doors unlocked and windows wide open before the shelter moved in???

Don't forget...the jail is right there, too...and even closer. Do you honestly think that the only people being released or visiting the jail are law-abiding citizens???? Whose presence would never have caused concern for Prairie Park residents?

Ian_Cummings 5 years, 3 months ago

The shelter doesn't have any supervision in place in the neighborhoods around it, but they do cooperate with the police when there are complaints.

bballwizard 5 years, 3 months ago

notwhatyouthink, what religion do you practice? thanks just curious

wordsofwisdom 5 years, 3 months ago

LJW- Are there any projections on how the new shelter location and the additon of 3 meals a day will impact the LINK program?

Ian_Cummings 5 years, 3 months ago

The Lawrence Community Shelter doesn't have any figures on that. I would have to check with the folks at LINK and see what they are expecting.

GetItRight 5 years, 3 months ago

A guest of the shelter for 16 months? Doesn't sound like he's too "committed to a shelter program and actively working to get out of homelessness."

Is the new place a dry facility?

Ian_Cummings 5 years, 3 months ago

The shelter doesn't turn people away if they have been drinking. To stay for longer periods of time, guests must enroll in the shelter's programs and abide by rules.

Jean Robart 5 years, 3 months ago

Some of the shelter residents were grousing about sleeping arrangements? Gee, I'm sorry they don't meet your expectations or desires.

Ian_Cummings 5 years, 3 months ago

They weren't complaining about the facilities - individuals were being placed next to different people from the ones they were used to, and not everyone gets along perfectly. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

Jean Robart 5 years, 3 months ago

Actually, all the article said was that some people are grousing about sleeping arrangements. Or did i miss something that wan't mentioned in the article?

motomom 5 years, 3 months ago

Congrats and best wishes, dear Loring! Your tenacity and passion is inspiring.

FlintlockRifle 5 years, 3 months ago

Enjoy your new digs, Hope this set up works for all

Catalano 5 years, 3 months ago

No $h!t. God forbid the judgers would ever need shelter from a storm.

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 3 months ago

I'm sooo glad you're prepared for everything and also already know your actual future. Lucky you! You ought to teach "the best laid plans" classes at the new shelter.

kernal 5 years, 3 months ago

Ian, what about the homeless with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems who will likely stay in the downtown area by choice rather than go to the new shelter.

geekin_topekan 5 years, 3 months ago

Kernal, what makes you think that Ian can answer that question? I've been saying since day-one that the only difference will be the invisible homeless population will served and the peopleof Lawrence will see no change because they don't want to see the change. They want to see bums downtown for several reasons, first and foremost to have something to complain about and to point fingers.

The river dwellers will remain, they have little interest in the shelter, never have never will.

kernal 5 years, 3 months ago

To answer your question, freekin_geekin, because Ian wrote the story.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 3 months ago

I'll bet the old shelter will never close. Panhandlers will want to be close to their source of booze money. The problem will never get fixed, just added to. Get the vasoline folks... your property taxes are going to shoot through the roof, not only for the additional funding Hendersons folly will demand, but also for the feeder organizations like Burt Nash. It warms my heart they put a bus stop by the new shelter. I'll bet they accomplished nothing except adding places for out of town vagrents to hang out while they soak cash out of the citizens of lawrence. There appears to be one big master plan that is well on its way to being put into place.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

Maybe you should take charge and get a final solution implemented.

kwilkins74 5 years, 3 months ago

Ignorance! Too much of it in the good ol city of Lawrence. It's sad!

50YearResident 5 years, 3 months ago

New 5 Star Hotel now open in East Lawrence. Three hot meals served each day and bus travel to beautiful Downtown Lawrence ever hour on the hour. Now taking reservations!

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 3 months ago

How DARE anyone donate a flat screen TV to the new shelter!

50YearResident 5 years, 3 months ago

Does anyone know what the Annual Operating Budget is for this project?

Jean1183 5 years, 3 months ago

I live in the area. As I was walking yesterday around 5pm, I had someone pass me headed towards Lawrence who I'm going to assume was homeless (backpack, walking, heavily clothed---the typical "walker" in this area doesn't dress that way OR carry a heavy backpack).

Later that evening I needed to go into Lawrence. On my return, I passed another person walking (dressed similarly with backpack and sack) who was headed back into Lawrence. I decided to just drive up near the new shelter. There was a person sitting on the curb on Franklin Rd (also heavily dressed).

My comment to my spouse when I got home, "It's the first day and it's started already." Those of you who think that there won't be some of the homeless roaming the area are WRONG!

kernal 5 years, 3 months ago

It did before the shelter moved, 50R. Look at the map again.

kernal 5 years, 3 months ago

Jean, it's also possible the two you saw walking had been released from the jail. Released prisoners don't get a ride home or into town.

Deb Engstrom 5 years, 3 months ago

Of course they will be roaming the neighborhood. It's their neighborhood, too.

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 3 months ago

What part of "headed toward Lawrence" are we supposed to assume equals "roaming the area"?

And sitting on the curb??? Oh! The horror!

Someone had the audacity to sit on a public curb on a road EAST of Prairie Park. On a curb in an area that you had to deliberately go out of your way to find because it was not on your way home.

I'll tell you what started on the very first day...people like you whining and complaining about other people who were doing absolutely nothing wrong or inappropriate or even annoying.

Jean1183 5 years, 3 months ago

Do YOU live in this neighborhood? I have lived here for 34 years. And I walk in that area. Of course I'm going to check it out and see what's going on. Most "neighbors" know what occurs in their neighborhood.

I am not opposed to helping those who help themselves. What I am opposed to is the fact that the shelter STILL accepts those who have been drinking and the location. It was stated by many that this would happen.....~some~ at the shelter would not stay there. They would wander back and forth into town. I have no problem with someone going into town by walking. What is the purpose of carrying a large backpack of stuff??? Don't trust the other people at the shelter enough to leave it there but we are suppose to believe they are completely trustworthy???!!! YOU are an idiot!

Jean1183 5 years, 3 months ago

Sadly, you are probably right.

Hubby called on his way into town this morning. He saw three more walking towards town.

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 3 months ago

Don't you think it's a wee bit anal-retentive on you and your husband's part that you guys not only keep a running count of how many people you see doing nothing more than walking toward Lawrence but also call each other with updates????

Jean1183 5 years, 3 months ago

No, my husband and I are sensible people. YOU are an idiot. (see above response to you) Have you never heard of "neighborhood watches"? The whole purpose of that is to notice things in your neighborhood out of the ordinary. What is going on is not "ordinary" and not only my husband and I will be watching but other neighbors as well.

And BTW....I am (as you said) doing absolutely nothing wrong, inappropriate, or wrong by driving in that area or noting who and how many people are walking there.

skinny 5 years, 3 months ago

You cater to them and they will come from far and wide! Most aren't even from Lawrence to begin with. Watch the crime rate go up in that area of town now.

Al Deathe 5 years, 3 months ago

Every person that is released frm the jail while the bus is running get a free bus pass into town. Every person that is released from the jail while the buses are not working get a free cab ride to town. Just for your info!

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 3 months ago

I am so glad that this finally happened. Now they have some breathing room. It is a blessing that the families have their own area and I hope that the Health Department and WIC can come by every so often to help them out with information and immunizations for the little ones.

I think the neighbors should have sent by a basket to welcome them to the neighborhood. I would hope that the children could be a part of the programs at Prairie Park and Marys Lake and not be shunned because of their families financial situation.

The people at the shelter need our support and encouragement, to be treated with dignity and respect. Let us all get together and be the wind beneath their wings.

P.S. I know what some people are going to comment about this. Dust off my shoulders.

50YearResident 5 years, 3 months ago

Your donations will be greatly appreciated.

Kathy Theis-Getto 5 years, 3 months ago

Pay no mind to negative comments, frankie. Community involvement is so important, especially for the kids.

Lathrup 5 years, 3 months ago

But no buss on Sunday, right? Just the van for folks that want to go to Church and such. I understand that there is a full time cook now too. The woman that did the evening meal before will appreciate that I am sure. I wish them the best of luck in a difficult situation.

50YearResident 5 years, 3 months ago

Heck, I would sign up for this program too. 3 Hots and a Cot, plus big screen TV to watch the super bowl, no other major requirements. Just attend some job training classes and live like a King for 3 months or more. Why not? It's Free too. Sign me up.

bd 5 years, 3 months ago

Lets see, $3.3 million divided by 120 people = $27k each?? Plus daily operating costs???

Should have paid them all off and started saving for the next batch!

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 3 months ago

Yet another shining example of why the US rankings in math and science stink.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 3 months ago

You know there is something wrong with the way we "Care" for the homeless when the Salvation Army gets out of the business.

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 3 months ago

There's certainly something wrong with the Salvation least as it's been operating here in Lawrence with the "leadership" here.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 3 months ago

I am so glad they got in before the snow. What a great way to start the new year.

seriouscat 5 years, 3 months ago

Best to all at the shelter, and for a new year with abundant love and compassion!

juma 5 years, 3 months ago

Guys like Rik Fawcett are the reason I am against programs like this. Hang out 16months here in Lawrence, and numerous other places before and he is only 32!! He should be thrown out and make room for someone in real need. He gave suggestions like he is the owner or what?? Obviously fit, able, young and too clever. Knows how to milk the system!

deec 5 years, 3 months ago

How do you know he is "fit?" Have you seen his medical records?

juma 5 years, 3 months ago

It should be somewhat difficult for an unfit person to travel (hangout) around half the country. Seems like a BS scheme to me. Also, he was not happy about leaving downtown; not enough panhandling outside of town?

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