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Homeless get job search help

December 02, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - REACH's Day Resource Center is many things to those who are homeless, a REACH official said.

A "shelter" is not one of them.

The Day Resource Center opened on Nov. 22 at Faith Chapel Church at 14 S. Potomac St., REACH Executive Director Terri Baker said.

Baker said the day program will again help the homeless fill out job and housing applications, and to provide access to support groups and medical treatment they may require.

Most of the people who go to the Day Resource Center also stay at the REACH cold weather shelter. The shelter, which this year opened on Nov. 14, houses those who are homeless overnight.

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The Day Resource Center will differ from the day shelter run last year out of the New Light Metropolitan Community Church, said Katy Costa-Sweeney, a REACH manager.

Costa-Sweeney, who is helping run the day program for the third year, said the center will be open on weekdays from 8 a.m. to noon, closing four hours earlier than last year. Costa-Sweeney said a lot of the amenities are gone from last year, so those who go there will be focused on one thing - work.

"There's no breakfast, no playing cards, no watching movies this year. We're strictly business," Costa-Sweeney said. "The people that are coming are sincere."

Costa-Sweeney said the center, being staffed entirely by REACH volunteers, got off to a slow start on the first two days with only a couple of people coming in each day for help. She said that quickly changed, and in its second week of operation for the 2004-2005 season, more than 15 people per day come through on an average day.

"This is my third season and I feel, already, it's the best season. We've really started out on the right foot," she said.

One of the greatest needs of those who are homeless is identification, which is required for some services and by employers in the area, Costa-Sweeney said.

"You think to get an I.D. is easy, but we've had situations where getting a birth certificate from New York took six months," she said.

Costa-Sweeney said the center's opening was in jeopardy until Faith Chapel Church agreed to house it on weekdays.

"We didn't have a spot until then," she said. "We were uncertain if we could even have it this year."

REACH stands for Religious Effort to Assist and Care for the Homeless.

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