ST. GEORGE — After nearly two and a half years of planning, the City of St. George’s renovation of a 16,000 square foot facility, bought for $1.5 million, for a new resource center and homeless shelter is nearing completion and expected to open Aug. 15 fully operational.
Aiming to not just provide people in need with basic necessities like food and shelter, the resource center will offer a range of services all under one roof and devise residents staying in the emergency shelter a custom daily “action plan” that constructs a pathway toward a future.
The center’s mission statement states that this facility exists to remove the barriers and obstacles that homeless individuals feel or are experiencing, the center’s Executive Director Carol Hollowell said. By providing them resources and skills, they are able to move out of being homeless, she said.
As a nonprofit organization, the renovation and upcoming operations will be managed entirely by volunteers.
“We’ll probably need around 200 volunteers a week,” Hollowell said. “We can use volunteers right now.”
There will be 21 services offered on a “Menu Card” available for people to choose a personalized selection of what is needed. Services include or give aid in the following categories: an emergency food pantry; emergency shelter; ID; birth certificates; food stamps; general assistance; Medicare; Medicaid; GEDs; alcohol and addiction; domestic violence; employment; resumé building; science, technology, engineering and mathematics – STEM – learning for low income children; work to success; parenting; budgeting; clothing vouchers; food vouchers; adult mentoring; and volunteer opportunities for the community.
“I think the initial challenges are going to be getting people used to a system and to follow procedures and policies that help them because they are so used to being beaten down and not having any choices,” Hollowell said. “I think our biggest barrier will be to say ‘nope you do have choices’ and get them to believe that they do.”
Because the facility once homed SunHawk Academy, located off Sunset Boulevard at 948 N. 1300 W., near a SunTran bus stop, the design dictated the building’s flow and was already set up with bedrooms, bathrooms, a commercial-sized kitchen and office space; though many renovations were still needed, such as replacing the carpet with laminate flooring to prevent bed bugs and installing four community showers on the lower floor, which will be available to people who need a shower but aren’t staying in the shelter.
“Our goal is for people to go from the emergency shelter into transitional housing or from here to an apartment,” Hollowell said.
The upper floor is designated for the shelter, initial intake, food pantry and commercial kitchen. The emergency food pantry will be available to anyone not staying in the shelter. For those staying in the shelter, breakfast and dinner will be served.
The emergency shelter will provide 12 rooms divided by gender and 4 family rooms with a total of 64 beds available. Each bedroom will have two sets of bunk beds, a sink and a shower. The mattresses are seamless and waterproof to prevent bed bugs and there is no limit to how long a person may stay.
The bottom floor will be designated as the resource center with 17 offices, a resource library, 50 computer stations, police station, multipurpose room — available as an overflow shelter when the need arises — and four community showers. There will also be a laundry room with two commercial washers and three commercial dryers.
The entire back lot will be fully utilized with a basketball court, sand volleyball court, dog run and community garden, said Matthew Ualani Loo, director of Economic and Housing Development for the City of St. George.
“We’ve had the opportunity to visit with our neighbors that own property right next to us and, obviously, there is a concern of safety,” Loo said. “But we assured them that what we do in the center here is different than maybe what they have grown accustomed to with homeless shelters. We are going to be very aggressive in case management. The St. George Police Department will be stationed downstairs. This made our neighbors feel a lot safer.”
The official name and logo for the new resource center is expected to be revealed in the next few weeks as the center prepares for opening.
“Probably the biggest challenge has been trying to collaborate with so many different agencies,” St. George Mayor Jon Pike said. “But I think everyone involved has come to realize that we may do different services, but we all want to help people.”
The center is city owned. It is not intended to replace or supplant Dixie Care and Share, which continues to operate and meet needs within the community.
To volunteer, please contact the director, Carol Hollowell, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone to 435-674-5757.
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Ed. update: Contact information for volunteering added July 7.
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