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Providing a space to start over

There’s never a slow moment at Christian Ministry of Lincoln County.
There are always mouths to feed, families to help and to top it all off a $90,000 renovation to oversee.
“We’re going to have total chaos for a couple of months,” said Susan Brymer, the executive director.
The organization’s soup kitchen is currently undergoing a much needed makeover. One wall is being knocked down to increase the kitchen size. Another is being demolished to add more seating to the dining room.
“We’re still having to sit people in our food pantry and out on the dock,” said John Hall, the building supervisor.
The extra space in the kitchen will accommodate a 10 burner, two oven stove to replace the soup kitchen’s four burner, one oven stove. The stove is being donated by Boger City United Methodist Church.
“The situation I have now is I don’t have enough kitchen,” said Sandy McLay, the kitchen supervisor.
Renovations will include converting an old food pantry into a bathroom and shower facility. Space will also be made for a washer and dryer room.
“We felt that there were homeless people in the community that don’t have access to showers or good hygiene,” said Brymer. “Obviously without good hygiene, you can’t get a job.”
The new facilities are being built with Lincoln County’s homeless population in mind.
“I don’t think our homeless population is very visible,” said Brymer. “The people are there, they’re just not walking the streets.”
Instead, Brymer believes homeless people sleep in abandoned buildings, barns and storage sheds. Sometimes they sleep outside under bridges, and they often camp out at friends’ houses.
“You’re a guest at someone’s house who probably doesn’t have much more than you,” said Brymer. “You don’t want to wear out your welcome.”
Because of this, even if some transient people have a place to spend the night, they often don’t have anywhere to shower or clean their clothes.
Christian Ministry’s new facilities will help solve this problem and hopefully give their clients a fresh start.
The additions will help Christian Ministry act as a transitional shelter for people coming through on their way to homeless shelters in surrounding counties, said Brymer.
The organization has had money to pay for the renovations for some time. What proved difficult was finding someone willing to do them.
“Three plumbers looked at the job and ran in the other direction,” said Brymer.
Howard Construction finally agreed to do the job. The project will take two to three months, but officials hope to only close the soup kitchen for one week.
During that week, it will be relocated to a local church.
The soup kitchen is open seven days a year, serves 23,000 people per year and is dependent on volunteers.
It’s a no-questions-asked ministry.
“Anybody is welcome to come and have all they want to eat,” said McLay.
Money for the renovations comes from the Timken Grant, Carpenter Foundation, Cannon Foundation and an anonymous donor.
For more information or to volunteer call (704) 732-0383.
by Sarah Grano

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