Crisis Ministries asks churches to support new facility

CHARLESTON—Crisis Ministries is planning to build a new shelter to better serve the homeless population, and the diocese is doing its part to help.

“So many people think Crisis Ministries is a place just to sleep and have a meal, but it’s so much more than that,” said Father Terence K. Fleming, vice president of mission for Roper St. Francis Healthcare.

The shelter works closely with the medical community and has a variety of programs to help their clients get back on their feet, such as helping them find permanent jobs and establish savings accounts.

“The goal is to return these people to a full life of independence,” Father Fleming said.

To do this, the outreach needs help from the community.

Father Fleming, who is on the hospital’s board of directors, said it was the community who helped build the original facility 25 years ago, and he hopes they will come through again.

Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone has added his support, asking local pastors to take an active role in the fundraiser by initiating a collection at their churches.

Steffanie Godsill, with Crisis Ministries, said they are distributing envelopes to about 20 Catholic churches.

She said they will also reach out to other denominations, civic groups and the general population to help raise the $6 million needed for the new two-story facility.

The biggest change in the new 30,000-square-foot facility will be in the number of homeless veterans the shelter can house, which will jump from 14 to 40. It will also provide 70 emergency shelter beds, counseling and group meeting space, a health clinic, and a soup kitchen.

Crisis Ministries also has a family center that was renovated in 2009 and serves 40 women and children.

Godsill said the shelter is always at capacity, with an overflow crowd coming in during extreme weather.

Construction is scheduled to begin this fall. All shelter, feeding and support services will continue during the building phase.

Father Fleming said he is in awe of the soup kitchen, which does not have a food budget at all. It runs completely on volunteers — about 3,000 of them — and provides three meals a day.

Father Fleming said he knows there is a lot of need in the world, but asks that his fellow Catholics open their eyes to the people in their own community.

“This is what’s going on in our own backyard,” Father Fleming said.