Wheeling Salvation Army to stay open through the Winter

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All week, 7 News has been on the forefront of the impending closure of the Salvation Army’s homeless shelter for the winter.

And today …the tide has turned.

Suddenly the Salvation Army is announcing their homeless shelter will remain open until spring.

They say an appeal from the community has changed their plans

Captain Mark Van Meter says they decided back in June….to close and refurbish this winter.

He says he contacted other providers–like the Bellaire Salvation Army, the Wheeling YWCA and the Coalition for the Homeless, and he was confident there were enough beds.

But since that decision, one big thing changed.

And especially as a result of the announcement of the hospitals that it would be best for us–the Salvation Army–to rise to the occasion.

OVMC and Hillcrest–and even the overhead walkway– were a refuge where the homeless often went on cold winter nights.
The captain says his shelter does need work on ceiling tiles, showers, windows, and lighting.

“We’re not in total disarray but it’s a project we want to get done. But we can delay it.”

All week, other agencies had voiced concerns about shutting down a homeless shelter in the winter.

We asked if the blowback had become a public relations nightmare.

“I’m not too concerned about the public relations issue. The Salvation Army, once again, has been here 126 years. We have been faithful to the community. I think the community knows what we’re about. So we’re fine”

So how does he feel about other groups that stepped forward in the interim, offering to house the displaced homeless?

There’s more than enough field to be played in. So if other people want to step into the game, step up to the bat.

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