For the past several months, Compassion First has been surveying the needs for survivors locally and the ways we can be involved in serving those needs. The more we researched and spoke with peer organizations, advocacy groups, and law enforcement, the more shelter became the front running need for local survivors.
Looking for ways to enter into this work, we began discussions with the Salvation Army to consider how we might be able to partner with them. Currently, they operate a local facility which has renovated, furnished, dorm-style apartments waiting to be filled. We are encouraged by the prospect of working with them and utilizing some of this space to shelter local survivors and build a program that will hopefully one day serve more than just shelter, food, and hygiene needs.
As of right now, we are transitioning from the “entry point” phase to the “operational” phase. This will require finalizing the agreement with the Salvation Army, working with partnered organizations, advocacy groups, and law enforcement to identify and place survivors in the program, as well as raising the funds to cover the monthly staffing and housing expenses of the program.
Raising these funds is pivotal to transition to the operation phase of our mission. Until sustainable monthly support is recruited, the ability to build out the programmatic components of sheltering is stifled. We are working to recruit monthly financial partners and will be hosting our second annual Lantern Walk 5k and Fun Run as one of our local fundraising efforts. Generating monthly commitment will be a major fundraising goal for this event.
We are also working closely with churches and local communities to both help support this program, but also to cultivate a volunteer base to help serve and mentor the survivors in the program. Part of our vision for this local program includes developing a training and certification process that will allow us to connect volunteers directly with survivors mentors.