Although HOST house reaps a large following of organizers and supporters within the community, the initial breakdown in funds began when HOST did not receive an expected county grant from the Community Development Block Grant Program.
Pam Secrest, volunteer, board member and wife of Project Manager Kurt Gross for the project, said it was quite a shame the shelter was not able to receive the grant, especially considering the fact that they had already acquired a nonprofit status.
“It was a big surprise that we weren’t able to get grant,” said Secrest on Thursday afternoon. “As soon as we found out we didn’t get it, everyone started to gather facts as to why we weren’t qualified. We’re still looking for answers.”
Despite the initial hiccup, HOST members remain incredibly optimistic and feel that their organization will not be deterred by a lack of funds.
“We may not be able to continue through the summer, but our goal is to reopen in the fall,” added Secrest. “It’s a continuous struggle. We are the only shelter on the West Side, and it’s important that we remain open.”
The shelter requires a large volunteer effort, and allows living quarters for 14 to 16 residents. To ensure efficiency and adherence to HOST’s policies, Gross also installed 12 cameras throughout the facility, which he can monitor from his cell phone at any moment, and hired three part-time staff members for extra security.
According to Project Manager Kurt Gross, HOST spends roughly $5,000 per month on utilities, bills, and various needs for the community members they house. The grant, which would have awarded HOST $40,000, would have helped secure stable funding for the home as well as outside projects to help struggling community members.
“Obtaining this grant was extremely important, not only for HOST, but for the community,” said Gross. “We have the means to provide a structured environment so the occupants can be integrated back into society. It’s important for everyone to realize that HOST organization is not a hand out, it’s a hand up. We are trying to get these people back on their feet, into their own homes or back to their families.”
Still, HOST members are remaining optimistic, and are happy with their results thus far since the program’s inception. Since its initial opening in the fall of 2013, HOST has already helped 10 of its residents get integrated back into society, Gross said Friday morning.
Gross also stressed that HOST will continue to provide food and clothing for the needy, as well as continue their work with other local organizations like Trust in Jesus Cuisine—a volunteer group that serves meals in North Park daily.
Just because we closed our doors for the spring and summer season does not mean we will not have a presence anymore, said Gross, and those that are currently residing in the home will not be left to struggle on their own.
“All but one of the folks in the house now already have a game plan to get back with their families or other living arrangements,” he said. “We are not going to leave them behind without a plan. They all have somewhere to go. Even though we’ll close our doors, we still feel like we’ve made a positive impact.”
Although HOST will be closed for the spring and summer season, board members are confident that HOST will open its doors again in the fall. In order to garner funds for the project, board members agreed to on Tuesday to meet with the city of Patterson on April 7 to discuss grant writing opportunities in the near future, and will also be holding a series of fundraising efforts.
The most recent is a barbecue that will take place on March 29 at North Park from noon to 2 p.m. The meal includes half a chicken, coleslaw and a bag of chips for $10 a ticket.
On April 26 HOST plans to stage a steak barbecue, at the HOST house facility. But the biggest effort yet will take place in June during the annual 24-hour Camp Out Homelessness event. Last year’s labors raised more than $5,000 for the local shelter, where 50 participants set up five campsites with 10 tents on the Northmead Elementary School Campus.
“The future looks bright,” said Gross. “Once we hit the grant jackpot, it will all work out. We are not closing down for good.”
For information pertaining to HOST house or to make a donation, please contact Pam Secrest at 892-1414.
Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext. 24, or firstname.lastname@example.org.