New home for crisis unit

September 19, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

Walk into the new Shepherd's Staff center and Kathy Brown will curl her hand and say, "Come here."

Watch out.

"She'll have you here working until 10 p.m.," one volunteer warned with a laugh.

Ms. Brown, director of the ecumenical crisis center for needy people, is getting her new "house" in order with volunteers, who have caught her energy and enthusiasm.

"So much room and so many possibilities," she said of the two-story house at 30 Carroll St., Westminster. "We needed a home to enlarge our vision and now we have a place, a home to do it."

The center, supported by the 40 churches in the Westminster Ministerium, moved two weeks ago from three rooms on East Main Street to a spacious three-bedroom, two-bathroom house. "We will fill it all," Ms. Brown said.

Grace Lutheran Church is leasing the house to the staff for a "token donation," which covers utilities.

"I told the church if they gave me the place, they have done their job," Ms. Brown said. "It is up to us to do the rest of the work."

She and several volunteers are making the new home ready to welcome "visitors" -- she never says clients -- who are often the community's neediest. Everywhere someone is scrubbing, cleaning, sanding, unpacking or sorting, but there is working room for all.

"This space is sheer heaven," said Lois Giles, staff secretary.

Ms. Brown would agree, but she might add "sheer bedlam" for now. Doug Saunders is painting shelves in the basement, a group is working on posters upstairs and Diane Haltiner is washing every window.

Raking, weeding and planting in the yard can wait. Ms. Brown is concentrating on the interior of the house and deferring outside work to Oct. 21, cleanup day, and hoping for volunteer gardeners.

Last year, Shepherd's Staff helped nearly 2,000 families with services ranging from clothing and school supplies to referrals for emergency assistance. In the first quarter of 1994, 500 families visited the center beside Westminster United Methodist Church.

Now, with more room, the center can expand its services.

* Looking for a job? The center has professional-looking clothes to wear on an interview. A dressing room and mirror will help in the selection process.

* Need to relax? Close the door in the quiet room upstairs and collect your thoughts.

* Maybe a comforting cup of soup? Ms. Brown promises a pot will always be heating on the stove.

* Children have a play corner in the living room.

* Christian literature is available. "We don't force, but this is a Christian organization and we represent area churches," Ms. Brown said.

More services are coming soon. A washer and dryer will be installed in the basement and the kitchen will have more shelves for household goods and linens -- all give-aways.

The Shepherd's Store, just off the entry area, offers all sizes and styles of clothing and shoes, as well as accessories and toys -- free to all visitors.

Churches have donated boxes of telephones, a microwave oven, office equipment. Westminster Presbyterian Church donated living room and office furniture.

Ms. Brown has no doubts her visitors will find the new home when it reopens Oct. 6, after brief blessings from area ministers.

"They know who we are and where to find us," she said.

She plans to seek local grants, write a newsletter and organize several fund-raisers, including Tea and Fashion, a show of new and Victorian clothing, Nov. 7. Tickets go on sale this week.

Although she is the driving force behind the 5-year-old mission, she takes no credit.

D8 "I am not the work," she said. "This is God's work."

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