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Church offering space for day shelter

February 05, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The New Line Metropolitan Community Church of Hagerstown has offered to provide space for a daytime homeless shelter during the winter, possibly starting on Monday, Pastor Robert L. Griffin said Tuesday.

Griffin made the offer Tuesday during a meeting with officials from the City of Hagerstown and the Washington County Free Library.

Library Executive Director Mary Baykan has said that from 25 to 35 homeless people have been keeping warm at the library during the hours when the cold-weather shelter is closed.

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She asked the city to find a place for the homeless to go during the daytime hours.

A Cold Weather Shelter run by REACH - Religious Effort to Assist and Care for the Homeless - provides overnight lodging and food for the homeless from October to April, but the shelter is closed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The REACH shelter rotates among area churches and does not yet have a permanent site, although one is in the works.

Griffin said the church will provide the space for a daytime shelter if the city funds two positions and if volunteers are found to staff it.

REACH would manage the daytime shelter, he said.

Griffin said the daytime shelter might provide Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous sessions, attendance at which would be voluntary for people using the shelter.

Anger management classes and other programs also might be offered, he said.

The shelter's hours have not been determined, Griffin said.

For three years, the New Line Metropolitan Community Church at 40 W. Church St. has provided breakfast for those who spend the night at the cold weather shelter. The church feeds about 30 to 50 people each day, Griffin said.

Hagerstown City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said he has told personnel from the church, REACH and the library that the city will spend up to $5,000 to pay for a security guard and a shelter coordinator for eight weeks.

When Zimmerman told the Hagerstown City Council during Tuesday's council work session that he made the offer, nobody spoke against it.

The library will donate some reading materials to the daytime shelter, Baykan said.

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