KINGSPORT — Hardly an hour goes by when the Salvation Army in downtown Kingsport isn’t open and meeting the needs of the community, from serving noontime meals every day, to offering beds for the homeless to providing financial assistance for rent and utilities.
Now, thanks to a recent expansion at the facility, the Salvation Army can offer an additional service that’s greatly needed within the Model City.
The Salvation Army (505 Dale St.) cut the ribbon on its newest addition Thursday morning: two family apartments, each with a living space, multiple beds and separate bathrooms.
“It’s sad that our society has gotten to the point where we have homeless families, but it’s great that the Salvation Army is stepping up and helping to provide a place for those families to come to,” said Vice-Mayor Mike McIntire. “Thank you for what you do to our community, the love and care you have for folks in very serious need. You do it well and we’re proud that you’re here.”
ROOM FOR FAMILIES
The Salvation Army in Kingsport serves a lunch meal every day of the year, provides counseling, financial assistance, food boxes, clothing vouchers and character building programs. The facility has cots for emergency shelter — 15 for men and 10 for women.
The problem in the past has been the facility did not have accommodations for families or single parents with teenagers. That’s all changed now.
About two years ago, the Salvation Army had a change in funding, which left two rooms at its Kingsport facility unused. Major Joe May, who oversees the Kingsport facility, said he and his staff, along with the Salvation Army advisory board, had to figure out something to do with that space.
“The biggest need we saw on a day-to-day basis was the need for an emergency shelter for families,” May said. “Now, when a family comes to us with minor children, we don’t have to refer them away. We can receive them and give them a safe place to stay so they can get back on their feet.”
GIVE ME SHELTER
Last year, the Salvation Army recorded 6,026 nights of people staying at its downtown facility. That number basically means on any given day there are at least 15 people spending the night. The need for emergency shelter is high, and now the organization can extend its services to include families.
A family can stay in one of the new apartments for a week when coming to the Salvation Army in an emergency situation. Their house could have burned down, they could be moving and waiting for a check, or any other number of reasons, said Major Jayne May.
After a week at the shelter, the Salvation Army will work with the family, evaluate their needs, and if more time is needed, the organization will work with them. Ideally, families won’t be staying longer than 30 days.
“Families can stay longer, within reason, as long as they’re being productive and have a goal. We don’t want anyone to just sit around and do nothing. It’s not good for them or our community,” May said. “The idea is to bring families in, help them put their ducks in a row, provide them some rest and a safe space and then set some goals.”