Executive Director of Youth Services System John Moses jokes that he’s going for a five star hotel rating.
The top floor of the YSS building provides shelter for those who might otherwise be wintering in unthinkable conditions.
“A number of them live under the bridge,” Moses noted. “There are a couple of what I would call little tent cities here in Wheeling.”
They now open the door an hour earlier–at 9 p.m. instead of 10.
The homeless people are met with a hot meal provided by an amazing list of volunteers–from restaurants to churches to individuals.
The homeless men and women range in age from 21 to 68, often in varying degrees of physical or mental distress.
They are checked by a volunteer medical team twice a month.
“Just out of the goodness of their heart, they visit here every other Friday or so,” said Moses. “But I also know that Dr. (William) Mercer looks all over the City of Wheeling for homeless people in need of medical care.”
Some of the overnight guests are not chronically homeless.
Some have jobs, just no home.
“There’s a lady that’s here who was in a hurry one morning, you know, trying to throw her shoes on and run out the door,” recalled Tammy Kruse, YSS Director of Development. “She had a job to go to.”
The people who provide the meals and volunteer in many other ways aren’t all adults.
Children have collected blankets, made up gift bags and visited with thoughtful questions.
“They ask about where they (the homeless people) sleep,” Kruse said. “They wanted to see where their beds were, and how close their beds were. Somebody asked where the library is.”
The shelter now has what they call “The Store,” open three days a week from noon to 2 p.m., offering bedding, clothing, dishes, even the occasional bicycle, all for free.
It gives the homeless help, warmth and hope.
And it gives other people an avenue to express kindness and compassion.
“It’s a statement of charity for this entire community,” said John Moses, “that it cares for those that are the most needy.”