Day­time home­less shel­ter fills void in Ne­wark

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - By Sheri­dan Hen­drix shen­[email protected]­patch.com @sheri­dan120

NE­WARK — Scott Hayes knows what it’s like to be home­less. He was once there him­self.

So when Hayes, chap­lain of Lick­ing County Jail Min­istries, started notic­ing more peo­ple sleep­ing in stair­wells and door­ways over the sum­mer in down­town Ne­wark, he felt some­thing needed to be done.

Af­ter a few months of prayer, Hayes of­fi­cially opened the Ver­ti­cal 196 Hope Cen­ter in Novem­ber, just south of the city’s down­town.

Un­like tra­di­tional home­less shel­ters, which typ­i­cally open in the evenings, the Hope Cen­ter is a place for home­less and low-in­come res­i­dents to come dur­ing the day.

“It’s fill­ing a void,” Hayes said. “A few cen­ters out there are do­ing a good job as night cen­ters, but they have lim­ited re­sources, too.”

The Hope Cen­ter is over­seen by the Lick­ing County Jail Min­istries and is rooted in the bib­li­cal teach­ing of bear­ing an­other per­son’s bur­dens. It’s a nat­u­ral re­la­tion­ship, Hayes said, be­cause more than half of the home­less pop­u­la­tion in Ne­wark are for­mer in­mates.

Like the jail min­istries though, the cen­ter is open to all re­gard­less of re­li­gious be­lief, and vis­i­tors aren’t pres­sured to con­vert, Hayes said.

The Hope Cen­ter is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mon­days through Fri­days. Guests are served a hot meal, can Scott Hayes, chap­lain of Lick­ing County Jail Min­istries, opened the Ver­ti­cal 196 Hope Cen­ter in Novem­ber. The day shel­ter pro­vides a hot meal, shower fa­cil­i­ties, job train­ing and more to home­less and low-in­come in­di­vid­u­als in Ne­wark.

take a shower and have their laun­dry done dur­ing that time.

Free wire­less in­ter­net, charg­ing sta­tions for cell­phones and spa­ces to read and watch TV are avail­able. An al­cove at the front of the build­ing al­lows guests to bring their dogs. Evening pro­grams, such as ad­dic­tion re­cov­ery and so­cial events, are in the works.

Hayes said he wants the cen­ter to be a place where peo­ple feel at home, even if it’s just for a few hours.

About 12 area churches sup­ply vol­un­teers to the Hope Cen­ter each week, said Gary Kirk­patrick, chair­man of the county’s jail min­istries The Ver­ti­cal 196 Hope Cen­ter also pro­vides free wire­less in­ter­net to vis­i­tors, as well as charg­ing sta­tions for cell­phones and spa­ces to read and watch TV.

and a pas­tor at Spring Hills Bap­tist Church in Granville.

Vol­un­teers help with ev­ery­thing from cook­ing

meals to greet­ing vis­i­tors, but their main job is build­ing re­la­tion­ships with the guests, Kirk­patrick said.

“We want peo­ple to feel again like they mat­ter,” he said.

Tre­sha Win­ston, a hair­styl­ist at J. Win­ston Hair Sa­lon in Ne­wark, heard about the Hope Cen­ter from Hayes while cut­ting his hair over the sum­mer. A life­long Ne­wark res­i­dent, she said she never real­ized how many peo­ple were home­less in her com­mu­nity.

Last week, Win­ston gave hair­cuts to about 10 men at the Hope Cen­ter. To style each of their hair, she said, was an eye-opener for her.

“We all want to feel im­por­tant,” Win­ston said. “We have no idea how much we can do for some­one in two min­utes.”

The Hope Cen­ter also of­fers job place­ment and train­ing.

Sev­eral vis­i­tors al­ready have landed jobs and per­ma­nent hous­ing through con­nec­tions with vol­un­teers and the county’s Job and Fam­ily Ser­vices of­fice, Kirk­patrick said. Dur­ing the cen­ter’s open­ing week alone, five peo­ple re­ceived job of­fers and six found per­ma­nent hous­ing, Hayes said.

It’s bit­ter­sweet, Hayes said, to see the guests leave af­ter build­ing such close re­la­tion­ships with them. But it’s part of the Hope Cen­ter’s ul­ti­mate goal — to pro­vide a start­ing point for last­ing change.

“We’re not suc­cess­ful if we’re see­ing the same peo­ple come in in five years,” Hayes said. “We want to en­cour­age them to find their way. I just want to of­fer a spark.”

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