SwitchPoint reports early successes

Artist rendering of what the SwitchPoint Community Resource Center will look like once remodeling is complete | Image courtesy of the City of St. George, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Though it has been open for barely a month’s time, the SwitchPoint Community Resource Center in St. George has made a positive impact for many impoverished and homeless individuals, center staff told city officials Thursday.

SwitchPoint is a place where 17 different agencies benefiting the homeless and people in-need are collected under one roof. It supplies temporary housing, a food pantry, job training and placement, education, addiction recovery help, mental health aid, and more. A purpose of the center is to make homelessness a temporary affair and provide people with the skills and the means to help support themselves.

Matt Loo, the city’s community development director, said he expects SwitchPoint to have its official grand opening sometime around Oct. 15.

The temporary shelter portion of SwitchPoint opened Aug. 29 and maintains an average residency of 68 people per day, Carol Hollowell, the center’s executive director, reported to the St. George City Council. Additional services have become operational since the end of August as well.

In the last three weeks, SwitchPoint has helped 23 people find employment; nine people move into permanent housing; and reunited five people with their families.

Just a few months ago this was all just a concept,” Mayor Jon Pike said. The city approved initial funding for the project that morphed into SwitchPoint in March.

Stories of those aided by SwitchPoint

Hollowell told the City Council about a veteran who had been experiencing major depression and had wandered the country aimlessly for the last two years. His wanderings brought him to the center where he encountered Hollowell. Learning he had family in the eastern United States, Hollowell called the man’s daughter. The veteran believed his daughter didn’t want to talk to him because he had been gone so long. The opposite was true, Hollowell said.

The daughter was crying on the phone, as she thought her missing father was dead.

As contact between family members was was re-established, staff at SwitchPoint put the veteran on a ride home to reunite with family directly.

Another example Hollowell gave of SwitchPoint’s impact was through the story of a man named Edger. She described him as having a low IQ and a learning disability, someone who would likely be “written off unemployable and worthless.”

Edger, who was homeless for five years, was employed at a fast food restaurant in Hurricane. He regularly road a bicycle to work from out of town, often leaving early in the morning so he wouldn’t be late.

With money earned from his job, Edger wanted to personally deliver it to members of his family in Las Vegas. Arrangements were made and he traveled to the city, but was unable to return due to part of Interstate 15 being destroyed by flooding during the Sept. 8 storm. He was stuck in Las Vegas for four days before being able to return to St. George with SwitchPoint’s help. Unfortunately, he had lost his job in the mean time.

Using its connections with Zion Lodge in Springdale, Hollowell said SwitchPoint was able to help get Edger a job there, along with housing. He started work at the lodge Tuesday.

Breakdown of funding and volunteer hours

As of Thursday, SwitchPoint has received $2,407,000 in funding. Over half of that comes from federal grants at $1.9 million. Private donations account for $232,000, with state funds supplying $6,800, Hollowell said.

Funds from a federal block grant to the City of St. George were used earlier this year to purchase the 16,000-square-foot facility that became SwitchPoint for $1.5 million. Money from the block grants is specifically marked for projects meant to benefit the community in some fashion.

Funds from federal grants are expected to be used over a period of three years, Hollowell said, and added there were additional grants from the state that could be applied for as well.

“There are millions of dollars that can be used in the county,” she said.

The center’s largest expenditure so far has been related to the interior remodeling of SwitchPoint’s facility, which costs estimated $84,000. Other notable costs included the acquisition of bunk beds and freezers.

Hollowell also told the City Council that volunteers have donated an estimated 5,900 hours to the center’s remodel. The dollar value of donated services and hours so far is estimated at around $34,600.

I couldn’t have done it without the volunteer hours,” Hollowell said.

There are currently seven Eagle Scout projects involved in helping complete the remodel of SwitchPoint as well, Hollowell said.

Call remains for volunteers, donations

The call for volunteers and donations remains constant.

People will be able to volunteer at SwitchPoint online once the website is launched sometime next week, Hollowell said. Until then, people can call 435-627-4663 for information on volunteer opportunities.

As for supply donations, Hollowell said Friday, the center currently needs feminine hygiene products, toilet paper, baby wipes, and spices like salt and pepper for food.

The SwitchPoint Community Resource Center is located at 948 North 1300 West in St. George.

Ed. note: Telephone number for SwitchPoint is 435-627-4663. Correction made Sept. 28, 2014.

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

 

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14 Comments

  • Bobber September 27, 2014 at 10:36 am

    “As of Thursday, SwitchPoint has received $2,407,000 in funding. Over half of that comes from federal grants at $1.9 million. Private donations account for $232,000, with state funds supplying $6,800, Hollowell said.”

    So the feds chipped in the vast majority of funds where as the state made such a small contribution as to be an insult? Does that sound right?

    • Koolaid September 27, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      That Federal contribution amount is probably sucked up by staff and administration fees, 10% of which goes to tithing

    • Dana September 28, 2014 at 5:18 am

      State money is being mi$$pent fighting same sex marriage. Not enough left over to pass on to much needed services.

  • ScanMeister September 27, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Visited there the other day…..busy place and glad things are going well.

  • kaaljean September 27, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    The bigger issue is where is the affordable 1 bedroom apartments. It is great to have temp. shelter, then find a person one of the many $9-10 an hour jobs but where do they live after that. This city has so few apartment complexes(I know everyone hates to hear one is going up near their house & fights it). Look at the want ads , so many working people are looking for basic decent 1 bedroom apartments for $400-600 a month & there is almost nothing. Then we get into these crazy roommate situations, 4,5,6 people sharing a house which can turn nice neighborhoods into parking lots and cause a variety of other issues.

    • Bobber September 27, 2014 at 9:36 pm

      Dead end service jobs, overpriced housing. STG has the economy of a resort town. Lots of folks would do better elsewhere, a place with more diverse economy that isn’t centered on being just a giant nursing home…

      • Koolaid September 28, 2014 at 9:05 am

        Or one large religion monopolizing on everything

    • Koolaid September 28, 2014 at 8:36 am

      The retirees who buy their mcmansions and then expect everyone to do everything for them for free don’t want any cheap apartments near their mcmansions.

  • laytonian September 28, 2014 at 10:16 am

    ….and so many people think that Utah can manage things better than the Feds?
    With two of our AGs being (frankly) thieves, MLM scammers running rampant because no one will enforce reality, and an uninformed voting bloc.

  • Jeak September 28, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Hey, if all you guys are so smart, either do something that actually helps other than complain, or else shut up.

    • Bobber September 28, 2014 at 2:50 pm

      Informing the voters of their dull-witted leaders is not complaining. One of the worst being Governor Hurlbert.

  • Bubbette September 28, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    FYI – the number posted is incorrect. The correct phone number to reach Switchpoint is 435-672-4663.

    • Joyce Kuzmanic Joyce Kuzmanic September 28, 2014 at 4:10 pm

      Thank you so much, Bubbette – actually it is: 435-627-4663 – called, verified, and correction made. Appreciate it,
      ST. GEORGE NEWS | STGnews.com
      Joyce Kuzmanic
      Editor in Chief

    • All TheWayToEleven October 6, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      In February, Bubbette had no nice things to say regarding an article bout Dixie C&S. Including

      “I am really disappointed in the news writing of this reporter. I had hoped that she would actually do some investigation into current situations before she published her articles. There is much more to this story and unfortunately, the person who sobs the most wins. I hope that in the future this news reporter will discover the facts and not just the fallacies.”

      Bubbette comments on no articles except ones on DC&S and the switch point. Interesting how that article announced funding for DC&S, but later that funding went to the switch point.

      Then this, a comment stating the wrong phonenumber. On the switch point website (Facebook), switch point said:

      “BTW – the phone number listed in this article is incorrect” and then listed the same incorrect phone number you have here, dated a day after this comment. Coincidance? I think not!

      Just sayin’, if Carol Hollowell wants to come on here and leave comments, fine. But she shuld at least tell us she is speaking on behalf of the switch point instead of pretending to be a concerned citizen who doesn’t like DC&S. Afterall, DC&S being forced to stop offerin services benefits Carol a lot.

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