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REACH to take shelter on road

October 01, 2000

REACH to take shelter on road



By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer


REACH, Inc. will take its Cold Weather Shelter on the road this winter while renovations to the Cannon Shoe Factory are underway.

The homeless shelter, founded in 1996, operated out of the building at 148 W. Franklin St. the last two winters, but plans for its partial demolition and renovation have forced the shelter to find an alternative for the next two winters, said Terri Baker, executive director of REACH, Religious Effort to Assist and Care for the Homeless.

With the help of 18 other congregations, the shelter will move to churches and a synagogue throughout the city on a weekly basis beginning Nov. 12 through April 8, Baker said. REACH operated the shelter in a similar fashion during its first two years, Baker said.

Christ's Reformed United Church, which owns the building and is funding the $2.7 million project, has offered the Cold Weather Shelter a permanent home once renovations - which will take two to three years - are complete, she said.

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"We view this as a very positive thing because we are being renovated," Baker said. "We knew there would be a time when we had to move out."

The shelter served an average of 12 people a night when it opened but has seen the numbers climb to 32 last winter, she said. Baker said she expects numbers will continue to rise, and local police, hospitals and county agencies will be notified of the shelter's schedule.

When the shelter reopens in the shoe factory, it will occupy between 5,000 and 6,000 square feet and have shower facilities. The shelter currently has an arrangement with the YMCA and the Presbyterian Church of Hagerstown to use their showers.

Baker said REACH did look at alternative sites downtown but could not find anything affordable.

"We are a faith-based organization and we pull together," Baker said.

The shelter, which operates from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., will open Nov. 12 at First Christian Church, 1345 Potomac Ave.

For more information on the shelter call 301-733-2371.

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