(St. Joseph,MO) While many people are preparing for the holiday season, Community Missions is gearing up to reopen their cold weather shelter, My Brothers House.
Community Missions Executive Director Jill Miller said the shelter is open three months of the year during winter to help provide emergency shelter when other agencies are full.
"It's to do the overflow from the other shelters that operate year round, that used to be the Salvation Army, now it's The Crossing," Miller said.
Danny Gach, Executive Director and Pastor of The Crossing, said during the colder days the number of people looking for a place to stay fluxuates and the shelter has had a waiting list for people to get into the shelter.
"It's a changing group of people. We found out the first six weeks we had 45 person occupancy, we had a total of 180 people come in unduplicated numbers,"Gach said.
Monday The Crossing was able to increase its occupancy limit from a 45 person maximum to 60, thanks to additional funding from the United Way.
“The United Way helped with some funding to have two more staff people so we could go up to 60 people in the shelter at night,” Gach said.
Despite the increased capacity at The Crossing, Gach said they aren't always able to provide everyone with a place to stay. The mens only shelter helps free up additional space when there are a limited number of cots at The Crossing.
“The Crossing, like the Salvation Army, is taking in both men and women because they have seperate rooms they can put them in,” Miller said. “This building is kind of small, so getting 24 men in here is about all we can do.”
Men needing shelter for the night report to the shelter at 4p.m. and provide a photo ID to secure a place to sleep, a shower, dinner for the evening and a small breakfast the next morning. Last year My Brothers House hosted 169 different clients in three months.
"Some have lost jobs, medical crisis in their lives, just any kind of thing you can imagine puts them on the street," Miller said."We have a no barrier policy with our shelter, so if they are intoxicated or under the influence, they can still come in and go to sleep if they don't create any kind of disturbance.”
Miller said operating the cold weather shelter costs approximately $9,000 each month to provide utilities, food, supplies and staffing.The seasonal shelter doesn’t receive federal funding and works solely on donations to keep people out of the cold.
"Our building here houses 24 [men], but we never turn anyone away. We will use the lobby of the [St. Joseph] Haven if we have to," Miller said.
The shelter accepts cash donations and items like towels, blankets, socks and toiletries. My Brother’s House cold weather shelter will open for the season on Monday, December 17 at 4p.m. For more information or to make a donation to the shelter, contact Jill Miller at 816-390-8884.