Shelter will begin move next month

COVINGTON - Garden of Gethsemane Homeless Shelter, run by Rainbow Covenant Ministries, will begin moving into its new location on Turner Lake Circle in December, according to the director, the Rev. Clara Lett.

Initially, Lett had hoped to relocate this spring, but the move was delayed.

"I have gotten so many calls (from people asking), 'Why aren't y'all in that building?'" Lett said.

Repairs on the building could not begin until the previous occupants - McIntosh Trail Early Childhood Development Council, which runs the HeadStart program - moved out, which happened in August, she said.

Repairs and remodeling projects then had to go through the bidding process, which took about 30 days, and the interior design had to be completed.

Walls and a new roof have been installed, Lett said. Other needed repairs included installation of shower stalls and a sprinkler system.

Lett said she hopes to be fully settled at the new site by January.

Covington paid for the property where the shelter will be located, at 7153 Turner Lake Circle, and installation of the sprinkler system and showers, at a total cost of $1.08 million.

In addition, a $100,000 grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development helped pay for repairs.

Volunteers are needed to help paint and do other small projects at the new location, Lett said.

The building will sleep 80 people, a blessing given the overwhelming need right now, she said.

At the shelter's current location in Porterdale, behind Rainbow Covenant Church, people are sleeping on the floor of the sanctuary, she said.

The shelter's three Porterdale locations are housing more than 60 people, about double the typical occupancy, she said.

The shelter is in need of donations of basic items like food, bath towels, soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, socks and underwear. Monetary donations would also be appreciated, Lett said, adding that contributions have been declining.

"I know how the economy is out there now. Folks are holding back their funds. It's not just us - all the agencies have been taking a real hit with donations," she said.

The shelter is located at 9 Hemlock St. and donations can be made from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.