CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) --They're a symbol of hope for many homeless on the West side, but now a shelter in Charleston may soon be forced to close their doors because of costs.
It may not be much, but to James Stephens, it's home. "The people here are very nice. It's comfortable. It feels like home."
In fact, The Harvest Time Church of God is also home to nearly 30 men each night. "Almost three hundred thousand meals across our counter. We've given away over five hundred thousand pounds of food. We've sheltered to this point, over fourteen thousand sheltered nights to the homeless in this community," explains Pastor Jess Inclenrock.
But thousands of meals and a warm place to sleep means big bills; large enough to put the shelter out of business. Pastor Inclenrock says, "We've got plenty of food. The problem is cooking it and keeping the lights on. Fifteen to sixteen hundred dollars a month for electric bills, three hundred dollars for water, two or three hundred for gas, it don't take long for all that to add up."
Pastor Inclenrock says in the past five years, they've been able to serve Charleston's West Side, but now, because of increasing operating costs, they may be forced to close their doors, shutting out hundreds in need. "The economy is going down, the offerings are going down, the people willing to help is going down, but the needs are increasing."
Increasing needs in a community willing to help each other out. It's something church member, Nona Ringler understands. "I don't want to see anyone out there starving, going hungry, because I've been there. I've been there when I've had no shelter over my head."
If the church can't raise enough money, they may be forced to close the shelter and stop providing meals as early as December.
Pastor Inclenrock says right now, the shelter is only for men, but he hopes to eventually add enough space for women and children. He says they're a completely non-profit organization and any donations are tax deductible.
For more information on the shelter and how you can help, click on the link below.