(UPDATE: August 21 5:15 AM)
WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — The announcement that the Wheeling Salvation Army’s homeless shelter will close for renovations this winter is still causing shock waves.One church’s plan to fill that void is seen as generous and kind.
But officials from YSS, who run their own Winter Freeze Shelter every year, say there are “a lot of working parts” in that endeavor.
“It gives me great worry and concern,” said YSS Executive Director John Moses, regarding the Sept. 1 closure. “You know winter will be here faster than we want it to be.”
Moses applauds the Centre Wheeling Felllowship for being willing to open their church and their hearts to the homeless.
But he says just the installation of the sprinklers to meet fire codes will take time.
“They have to be approved by the fire marshal in Charleston,” noted Moses. “There are only a few companies in the local area that install sprinkler systems. So my guess is that winter is going to come and go before that church has a complete installation.”
And he says dealing with the homeless has its challenges.
“A lot of people who are homeless are also struggling with active addictions,” he said. “A lot of them have untreated or under-treated mental illness.”
They say the closure of the Salvation Army’s homeless shelter will be felt statewide.“There are places around the State of West Virginia, I have heard, that send people to Wheeling,” said Betsy Bethel-McFarland, YSS communications manager. “They give them a bus ticket to Wheeling because Wheeling has so many services for people in need.”
Another concern is that the Salvation Army accepted whole families, not just adults.
“So that’s a concern for us,” said Bethel-McFarland. “It’s going to be a concern for everybody. What’s going to happen to these families who don’t have a place to stay?”
YSS officials say they’ll be happy to advise and help the Centre Wheeling Fellowship.
But they say it will take even more people and organizations to fill this void.“It’s a challenge for this community,” said Moses. “I have great faith that this community will have an answer.”
The Centre Wheeling Fellowship needs donations to help pay for the sprinkler system they must install to comply with fire codes.
Donations can be sent to the Centre Wheeling Fellowship, 41 22nd Street, Wheeling, W.Va. 26003