Compassionate Hands, the local ministry that serves the homeless, is buying a building and will be opening a men’s shelter this winter.
John Grant, executive director and minister of Compassionate Hands, told the Lebanon Noon Rotary on Oct. 20 that acquiring a building was in the nonprofit’s five year plan, but circumstances have conspired to move the purchase up.
“COVID forced us to find an alternative plan,” he said. “If we don’t do this ministry, people will die this winter.”
Normally, 40 churches house homeless people during the 15 weeks of winter. But, because of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s not feasible for churches to do that this year. There are problems with providing space for social distancing and well as sanitizing rooms before and after guests have spent the night.
The ministry will be buying the building that now houses Kids World 2, a daycare center at 214 N. College St. in Lebanon that is itself a victim of the pandemic. Owner Jenny Baines says she has been unable to find reliable staff for the center, and blames the extra unemployment benefits the federal government has offered that she said is a disincentive for people to work.
Grant said Compassionate Hands is paying $725,000 for the building, and that “Wilson Bank and Trust offered generous terms on the loan.”
However, the organization needs to bring $140,000 to the closing in early November but only has $80,000 in the bank.
“So we’re asking for prayers,” Grant said, adding that donations would also be accepted.
Grant said the organization has big plans for its new building. He hopes that using it as a shelter will only be necessary this year and that the church model will resume next year. The goal is to use the building to provide services to the homeless, such as education and counseling, in an effort to break the cycle.
Grant also announced that Allen Tack has joined Compassionate Hands as director of ministry services.
Tack brings with him 20 years in the corporate world, working with companies such as Dell Computers and Uniguest. He also founded with his wife, Kathy Tack, the Generations of Grace church, where Kathy is pastor.
Tack said his job will be to “bring order and process” to the organization, as well as train volunteers.