If you've ever set foot inside Crisis Ministries' homeless shelter on Meeting Street, you know they do the best with what they've got. The kitchen, where volunteers prepare 200,000 meals a year, is cramped and outdated. The men's dorm, which doubles as the dining room, tends to leak through the roof on rainy nights. The bunks and concrete floors are clean, but they lack nearly all the creature comforts of home.
A new facility, planned for an empty lot just around the corner at E and Walnut streets, would solve many of those problems and increase the number of beds available for veterans. But Crisis Ministries needs your money to make it happen.
It will take $6 million to build the state-of-the-art, eco-friendly building, and while some local businesses and philanthropists have helped bring the total to $4.8 million, the nonprofit organization is counting on donations to raise the remaining $1.2 million.
At Crisis Ministries' groundbreaking ceremony in October, Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. gave a brief history of the shelter. The story started in the winter of 1974, when a punishing cold snap withered the oleanders and fig vines. People who had previously slept under cars and in alleyways came out looking for a place to stay, no longer able to brave the elements.
"It was too cold to be homeless in Charleston," Riley said, "and we were confronted with the ugly fact that we had homeless people in our community."
Crisis Ministries was founded in 1984, and in the time since then, it has sheltered over 40,000 people, served over 2 million meals, and helped over 7,000 people get into homes of their own. The new facility will include an examination room, dental room, and nurse's station, which the organization estimates could save $60,000 a year on emergency room visits by homeless people who cannot afford healthcare. It will also include spaces for counseling, group meetings, and legal services.
$4.2 million had been raised in May, and the total was $4.7 milllion in October. To make a donation, visit foodshelterhope.org. For more information on the building project, call Director of Development Steffanie Dohn at (843) 723-9477.