Shelter in Jeopardy

Despite widespread publicity, the recent concert to save Meridian's only shelter for families fell far short of its goal. Because of this the shelter is facing possible closure later this year.

The 'Save the Shelter,' concert featured two big name gospel artists. It raised $17,000. The goal was to raise $50,000. Unless more money is donated, South Harbor could be forced to close within a matter of months.

'This is where we sleep.'

This is Lue. Since Monday she and her three young children have been staying at South Harbor Shelter.

'In here it's hard to give them a bath because it's only a standup shower.'

However, Lue says the shower is the least of her worries. For more than a month she and her children have been living in motels. Now she's out of money and in South Harbor.

'I never thought I'd end up in a shelter, I never thought that. It's a hurtful feeling, but at least we are not on the street.'

As the only shelter for families in this area, South Harbor officials say the agency serves a wide range of people.

'I've had people come from California, Chicago, all around. We can't turn them away,' says South Harbor Director, Linda Grace Jones

However, Jones says soon she could have no choice but to turn people away. That's because the shelter basically has only the $17,000 raised from the recent concert to operate on for the rest of this year.

'With that $17,000 we can last maybe three months, maybe three months,' says Jones.

'This has been going on for many years,' says MCCSA Executive Director, Callie Cole. 'This isn't the first time we haven't got the money, but we make every effort we can to come up with the money. We're just going to go on faith!'

Because government funding that Multi-County Community Service Agency (MCCSA) uses to operate the shelter has been drastically reduced over the years, South Harbor operates primarily off donations. In now needs $50,000 just to stay open for the rest of this year.

'I'm not going to worry about next year. I'm trying to keep it open this year,' says Jones.

As with South Harbor Shelter, for Lue, time is also of the essence. With an interview Friday she says she's placing her faith in God to land a job, which in turn will help her secure a permanent place to stay.

'As long as I play may part, then he'll play his!'

South Harbor Shelter can house up to 34 people per night. Last year it served 260 people. So far this year it has served 85.


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