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No summer break for homelessness
Groups still in need; walk funds were only respite
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For the fortunate, summer may mean lounging on beaches and weekend excursions.

But it presents a host of problems for the less fortunate — and groups that serve them say they feel a pinch, too.

“Taking care of the needy — it’s an unending battle, and need does not take a summer vacation,” said Charli Shearer, program coordinator for the Kirk Healing Center.

The center was among three groups that recently received short reprieve with funds from the first-ever Liberty County Homeless Coalition’s Good Friday Walk for Shelter, which raised $10,811, according to St. Philips Episcopal Church Deacon Chad Chaffee.

So far, an executive committee has distributed about $6,600 of those funds for assistance and will allocate the remaining $4,200 on a case-by-case basis, Chaffee said.

The Liberty County Manna House and the Hinesville Homeless Prevention Program also received equal funding from the proceeds, though Chaffee declined to provide a specific amount. He said funds have also been funneled through other organizations to provide for emergency needs, such as transportation home or hotel stays.

The Rev. Hermon Scott, chairman of the area’s homeless coalition and member of the Manna House advisory board, said he was grateful to those who contributed to the fundraiser, but that times have been lean at the soup kitchen in the past couple of months.

“I do know we were looking better because of the contributions from the Feinstein Challenge and so forth … We were in a better situation than in the earlier part of the year, but the need was still great,” he said about when he last heard the kitchen’s numbers.

The Feinstein Foundation, a national organization, vowed to match local donations during a designated period of time, Scott said. He deferred to Manna House director the Rev. Katrina Deason for specifics, but she could not be reached at press time.

Shearer said the Kirk Center, which provides transitional support for single adults in two homes as they build financial stability, received $1,700 from the fundraiser.

“We were thrilled with that, because $1,700, that will cover our rent for a month or our utilities and a little bit of our rent,” Shearer said. “But we’re a deep and difficult well to fill. That gave us a little bit of break, but we’re right back to ‘What are we going to do the next month and the next month and the next month?’”

Proceeds from sales at the K&K Thrift Store, donations, quarterly grants from the city of Hinesville and monthly support from the United Way keep the non profit in operation, Shearer said.

Last week, center founder Dr. Alicia Kirk sent an email seeking continued support.

“There is no money for utilities (and they don’t care that we’re a homeless shelter when they turn off our services!); no money to pay for prescriptions, for food supplements, for transportation to job interviews or health appointments,” Kirk wrote.

So why are the straits so dire?

Shearer said donations and sales at the thrift store diminish drastically in the summer, a time when costs also increase for transportation and utilities.

Center operations typically run about $4,000 per month, and about $2,000 of the monthly operating funds come from thrift sales or community support.

“We always struggle June through August out at the thrift shop, so it’s not even paying for itself in the summer time, which just adds to the burden,” Shearer said.

The Kirk Healing Center is trying to launch a “Friends of the Kirk Healing Center” program in which benefactors can make monthly donations through a PayPal system, Shearer said. If they receive enough monthly donations, they could build capital for greater stability and expanded programming.

“You can do as little as $15 a month. Just imagine, if 100 people do just $15 a month, that covers our rent,” she said.

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