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Director breathes new hope into Pa. shelter

November 21, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, PA. ? New Hope Shelter always has been about fresh starts.

Waynesboro's year-round shelter for the homeless has given many new beginnings and gotten a few of its own.

The shelter now has another one with the hiring of a full-time director, local resident Jennalee "Jenna" Freeman.

"I have a background working with the homeless in Washington County, Md., through the Turning Points homeless outreach program and have a background in social work through Shippensburg (Pa.) University," Freeman said. "I wanted to work in my own community."

On Monday ? her first day on the job ? Freeman witnessed evidence of new hope when she shared in a shelter resident's excitement to learn she had secured Section 8 housing.

"In December, she moves into her own place," Freeman said.

New Hope Shelter, at 25 S. Potomac St., opened in the late 1990s. The local fire marshal closed it in September 2003 for code violations, then the shelter voluntarily was closed in the fall of 2005 for extensive renovations.

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A recent problem was an infestation of bedbugs, which Freeman said was remedied with donations of new beds and bedding.

"Luckily, that's taken care of," she said.

One of Freeman's most notable goals is to start seeking grant funding.

"For the past 10 years, New Hope Shelter has been funded primarily on donations from churches and community members and run by volunteers," she said.

One of the shelter's sources of revenue is the thrift shop operating from its basement.

Freeman said she wants to apply for grants to renovate the upper two floors into transitional housing.

One-fourth of the people staying at the shelter early this week were small children, Freeman said.

"A lot of our folks do work," Freeman said. "If they're not working, they're supposed to be out looking for a job."

Employment factors into the residents' length of stay at the shelter, which was hosting about 20 people this week. A resident's stay can be extended beyond the six-week mark if he or she actively is obtaining work, Freeman said.

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