Rowan Helping Ministries plans new building

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 15, 2012

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — After 25 years in operation, Rowan Helping Ministries plans to build a new homeless shelter and soup kitchen across the street from the overcrowded facility at 226 N. Long St.
The nonprofit agency already has raised 96 percent of the $5.5 million goal, including $1 million from Fred and Alice Stanback for construction of an environmentally friendly building and $2 million from the Robertson Family Foundation.
The project includes construction of a 20,000-square-foot shelter and soup kitchen, which will feature solar panels and energy-saving design.
The city of Salisbury’s Technical Review Committee will consider the proposal at 9 a.m. Thursday in the second-floor seminar room at the Plaza, 100 W. Innes St. Next week, Rowan Helping Ministries plans to ask the city to donate land for the project.
The plan calls for renovation of the current shelter for other uses and rehabilitation of several nearby homes to serve as transitional housing for families.
“The poverty rate in Rowan County has more than doubled in the past four years, from 11 percent to 22.1 percent,” said Paul Fisher, co-chairman of the campaign and chairman of F&M Bank. “It’s time to expand Rowan Helping Ministries’ facilities, its programs and services.
“The wonderful folks in Salisbury and Rowan continue to amaze me. When there is a real need, they respond.”
Dave Jordan, a retired banker, and David Setzer, executive director for the Robertson Family Foundation, also are co-chairmen for the campaign.
The new soup kitchen and shelter would provide housing for 60 men, 40 women and up to four families. For the first time in its history, the shelter is housing children every night.
The new dining room would accommodate 126 people, double the current capacity.
Sheltered families would 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, would have space for educational offerings and life coaching.
The existing facility, built in 1989 to provide shelter and a hot meal for 40 men plus offices for crisis programs and staff, is severely overcrowded, said Kyna Foster, executive director.
“Such conditions are creating space issues that negatively impact the ministry in all areas,” Foster said in a press release.
If the shelter and soup kitchen move across the street, the food pantry, clothing closet and crisis assistance program would expand in the existing facility.
Crisis assistance, which provides supplements for utilities, rent and food, continues to grow by 10 percent a year.
“Clients wait in a crowded lobby for two to four hours because there is not adequate interview space,” Foster said. “Clients are interviewed in open areas that lack full confidentiality.”
Space limitations prevent the expansion of programs that could help break the cycle of crisis, such as life coaching, group classes and the New Tomorrows program, she said.
Organizers hope to name the new kitchen for Jeannie Jordan, Dave Jordan’s late wife. Jeannie’s Kitchen would honor Jeannie Jordan, Collin Grubb, Ginny Williamson and Jane Luhrs, who started the First Presbyterian Soup Kitchen in 1982.
“Jeannie loved helping those in need, and I know that she would be very pleased by the community’s response with the funds for the new RHM shelter and soup kitchen,” Dave Jordan said. “The community support of RHM over the last 25 years and the response to the capital campaign can only be described as a caring community responding to the needs of ‘least of these.’ ”
Rowan Helping Ministries already owns two lots across the street and has three houses under contract, Foster said.
Chris Bradshaw, volunteer chairman for Shelter Ministries, will oversee the project. Shelter Ministries is a nonprofit group that owns RHM facilities.
Ramsay, Burgin, Smith Architects designed the plans.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.