Goal of church-based homeless shelter: Provide care for ‘most vulnerable in the community’

SHALOM served 85 unhoused individuals this winter during seven-week season.

MIDDLETOWN — A Middletown church-based homeless shelter served 85 unhoused people during this shortened season, according to Serving Homeless Alternate Lodging Of Middletown (SHALOM).

SHALOM, with the assistance of many local churches, recently completed its 20th winter of providing shelter to the “most vulnerable and often the most overlooked individuals in our community,” said Bill Fugate, volunteer coordinator.

He said serving the homeless, addicted and sometimes mentally challenged can be “very difficult at times,” but it is also “a wonderful blessing” to help those who are truly seeking assistance with their often overwhelming situations.

He said SHALOM had a shortened season from 10 to 12 weeks to seven weeks due to the city of Middletown asking for assistance after its warming center, which was scheduled to be open all winter, closed after six days.

Still, Fugate said, SHALOM served 85 homeless individuals. Most of those were Middletown residents, but SHALOM also served some from other area communities and states, he said.

Middletown Police Chief David Birk has estimated there about 200 unhoused people living in Middletown and about 50% are from outside the city. He said many of the homeless come to Middletown from surrounding Butler County communities.

Fugate and the original director, Roy Ickes, always said that SHALOM would make every effort to serve all who were led to the homeless shelter.

Fugate said it takes hundreds of dedicated volunteers to serve the homeless community. Some of those volunteers chaperoned the guests, drove the van, spent the night with the guests, provided a meal or snacks, cleaned the host church, laundered the clothes and supplies used by the guests, prayed with the guests, took time to have a conversation with guests or financially supported SHALOM.

The host and partner churches included Breiel Church of God, Tytus Avenue Church of God, Berachah Church, Quest Church, First Baptist, First Christian, Holy Family Parish, First Presbyterian, Crosspointe Church of Christ, Bethlehem Lutheran, West Elkton Friends, St Paul’s and First United Methodist.

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