Board members, donors tour new Rowan Helping Ministries building

  • Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 12:23 a.m.
Rowan Helping Ministries board members got the chance to see the new RHM construction site on North Long Street. The 32,000-square-foot facility will have the ability to house 150 people who need overnight shelter as well as access to a kitchen. The construction is expected to be completed by April of 2014.
Rowan Helping Ministries board members got the chance to see the new RHM construction site on North Long Street. The 32,000-square-foot facility will have the ability to house 150 people who need overnight shelter as well as access to a kitchen. The construction is expected to be completed by April of 2014.

More than two dozen board members and major donors got their first look at the new Rowan Helping Ministries shelter Tuesday afternoon during a half-hour walk through the building, on which construction is progressing nicely.

“I have been so impatient about getting over there,” Kyna Grubb, executive director, told the group before they crossed Long Street.


Chris Bradshaw, chairman of Helping Ministries, which owns RHM’s facilities, led the tour, along with architect Bill Burgin.

“We’re gonna go walk around and get as close to the main floor as we can,” he said.

And that’s exactly what folks did, gingerly picking their way down a red dirt hill.

The group entered the building on the lower level — not the basement, because it has windows. The first thing they saw in the mechanical room was a giant hot water heater tank, the contents of which will be warmed by solar power during the day. That room then opened into an expansive area which can be used for future space for food storage or educational programs or just about anything else the staff can dream up, Burgin said. “It’s just got a lot of use potential.”

Upstairs, a wide, main hallway connects the kitchen, laundry areas, family areas and more. Clerestory windows — high up near the ceiling — line the entire space on one side, allowing light to flood in.

Grubb pointed out where the case manager offices would be, along with day spaces for reading and playing games, the men’s shelter area, the women’s shelter area and the kitchen. The group carefully walked across the concrete floors. Just moments before, they were being buffed to a sheen, and were still slightly tacky to the touch.

Grubb noted that up to 126 people could be seated at round tables, with the opportunity to connect and visit with others.

“People hunger for things other than food,” she added.

Grubb walked through the laundry area, which would comfortably hold a large number of people. At the current location, only four volunteers can fit in the space.

“I know our laundry volunteers will be excited to use this space,” she said.

Nearby was the location for four family rooms, where children will be able to play and do homework.

It might have been a challenge for some folks to envision everything Grubb talked about.

Not Paul Fisher.

“I saw it a long time ago,” said Fisher of F&M Bank. “You have to see it before you can raise the money. When people see it, they give. I’m terribly excited about this.”

The group met Tom Harrison of Matthews Construction, who is job superintendent.

“We’re gonna make the completion date,” Harrison said, to a smattering of applause.

That’s set for late March 2014.

Harrison said that 50 men are working onsite, four of whom were shelter guests hired through a temporary employment agency.

RHM supporters also got a glimpse of what the interior would look like as Burgin showed off a design board full of colors and material samples.

“With more than 30,000 square feet, we wanted to minimize the different colors being used,” Burgin said, gesturing at a neutral palette. “We have a clientele, for lack of a better word, that’s a little hard on the building.

“It’s not plain,” he said of the color choice, “but it’s simple. Ten years from now, 20 years from now, we want it to look good. We are staying away from trendy colors.”

The bathrooms will feature ceramic tile. The floors are polished concrete. There will be carpet tiles in the day rooms and offices. The doors are natural birch. All of these materials, Burgin said, are easy to maintain and durable.

“It is absolutely wonderful,” Tippie Miller said after the tour.

Miller, who has served on the board and is a donor for the new building, said she’s often asked why the new facility is so much bigger. The current facility is 10,000 square feet; the new one is 32,000 square feet.

“It’s because it’s so needed,” she said. “The New Tomorrows program will be housed here and we will have everything under one roof. This new building has been my dream.”

God brought it all together, Grubb said. After construction is complete, the existing building will become the Ralph W. Ketner Crisis Assistance Center, providing food, clothing, financial assistance and life coaching.

RHM’s mission statement was recently changed, Grubb said, to reflect not only the essential needs it provides, but empowerment and education as well.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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