When Jenny Bynum found herself with nowhere to go, she sought refuge in May at a women’s homeless shelter in Warsaw.
“I ran out of family members to live with and the only other option was to come to the shelter,” she recalled.
Bynum is not alone. Thanks to a dedicated group, Fellowship Missions, a new, permanent homeless shelter has opened in Warsaw. The 24-hour shelter, located at 1520 E. Winona Ave., opened Sept. 25.
The shelter is operated by Fellowship Missions, a non-profit agency. Executive director and founder Eric Lane said the 46-bed shelter is for men, women and children. Men and women are separated, as well as families. Open seven days a week, the shelter provides beds, meals, showers and laundry facilities. The facility provides a 14 day stay. However, a long-term, self-sufficiency program is aimed at getting people back on their feet.
Lane said the facility is the only homeless shelter in Kosciusko County. He estimated about 3 percent of the population in Kosciusko County is homeless.
The homeless shelter program is not new. In 2010, Fellowship Missions, along with several churches, began operating two homeless shelters in Warsaw; one for women and another for men. “It grew quickly,” said Lane of the two shelters, which have since closed.
Realizing the need for a more permanent men’s and women’s shelter, Fellowship Missions decided to open one facility.
Since 2010, more than 430 people have used the shelters. Last year alone, 172 adults and 76 children under 14 used the shelters.
Getting the new shelter open wasn’t without its challenges. The facility, housed in the former Ken Anderson Films building, had to be gutted and renovated. The building was donated and several items inside the building were donated thanks to the generosity of the community.
The shelter is a partner with the Food Bank of Northern Indiana. Therefore, Lane is able to get food at a more reasonable price.
The shelter is open to men, woman and children each night. One side of the facility is for women and children only, while the other side is for men only. A separate room is designed for children to play and interact and separate living rooms allow guests to interact and socialize with one another.
The 9,000 square-foot facility is operated by Fellowship Missions, as well as contributions from volunteers, community donors and churches. “We are faith based,” said Lane, who added the shelter has a weekly Bible study group meeting. A non-profit agency, it does not take in any federal or state dollars.
As for Bynum, she hopes to get disability for a knee problem she has been dealing with for several years. Bynum said her faith in God has been renewed since coming to Fellowship Missions’ shelter.
“With Eric’s help, and God’s, I have gotten a new walker,” she said. And a new lease on life. Her ultimate goal is to get her knee problem resolved and get a place of her own some day. In the meantime, she serves as a house monitor.
The shelter’s operating hours are 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Sunday. For more information, call Lane at (574) 371-6448 or visit fellowshipmissions.net/help.htm. For a ride to the shelter, or if shelter is needed after 8 p.m., call (574) 268-9555 or email [email protected], or find Fellowship Missions on Facebook.