Contract awarded for new shelter expansion project

  • Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 1:03 a.m.
Diane Hundley
Diane Hundley

The board of Rowan Helping Ministries and the Shelter Ministries of Rowan County have awarded the contract for expanding the shelter to a Conover company.

Matthews Construction Co. will build a new homeless shelter and soup kitchen in the 200 block of North Long Street, across from the existing building at 226 N. Long.


Construction of the 30,000-square-foot building is expected to begin later this month. A ground-breaking ceremony in September kicked off the project.

Executive Director Kyna Foster said the nonprofit agency is looking forward to the new building and its expanded services. Rowan Helping Ministries has outgrown its building.

“Everyday we feel the pains of inadequate space as our staff and volunteers work to provide crisis assistance and shelter services in our current space,” she said.

The overnight shelter was originally designed to hold 40 men but now shelters between 55 to 75 men, women and children every night. The soup kitchen, designed to serve 60 people, regularly feeds as many as 180 daily.

The new shelter will accommodate 60 men, 40 women and four families. The new soup kitchen will seat 126 guests.

Sheltered families will have space during the day to avoid the elements and meet with area agency representatives. Participants in New Tomorrows and Journey Forward, daytime programs for shelter guests, will have space for educational offerings and life coaching.

The agency also bought three houses on East Council Street that will be renovated for transitional housing.

Rowan Helping Ministries board member David B. Jordan first became involved with the agency through his late wife, Jeannie. She helped start the First Presbyterian Church soup kitchen, which grew to involve several churches and later became part of Rowan Helping Ministries.

What had been a church-led effort evolved into what is now Rowan Helping Ministries.

Today Rowan Helping Ministries provides crisis assistance and operates an overnight shelter, soup kitchen and other programs for those in need in Rowan County.

Dubbed the “Miracle on Long Street,” the project has attracted more than $6 million in contributions from the Rowan County community and surrounding areas in less than a year.

Jordan, who was involved in raising the funds, said the community responded in ways beyond belief.

“The need is great. The sooner we get the building in place, the sooner we can do our job in helping those in the community who need help,” he said.

Foster made the announcement at Tuesday’s board meeting after signing the contract earlier in the day.

Matthews Construction plans to hire locally, she said.

“The Board of Shelter Ministries has confidence in Matthews Construction to deliver a quality job on this essential expansion of Rowan Helping Ministries.

“We are also glad to see that several subcontractors on the project are from Rowan County,” said Chris Bradshaw, board chair of Shelter Ministries.

The Shelter Ministries is a nonprofit that owns all the properties out of which Rowan Helping Ministries operates. Along with project architect Bill Burgin of Salisbury, The Shelter Ministries will oversee the construction project.

The new soup kitchen and shelter will use sustainable design practices to provide an energy efficient and environmentally friendly building that costs less to heat and cool, Foster said.

Some of the design ideas were scaled back after the board realized some awnings they’d planned for were costly, at $125,000 apiece.

“We did re-engineer the roof line of the building. We eliminated those panels and are still getting the energy efficient benefit,” Foster said.

The original design included a windowed wall or clearstory that would direct light into a room. The re-design meant lowering the windowed wall.

The existing facility, built in 1989, will be renovated to efficiently operate the agency’s homelessness prevention services — the Crisis Assistance Network, the food pantry and the clothing center.

Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.

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