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Helping Hands Needs Community Support
They say they're fed up with living next to "social service row." Neighbors showed up to last night's Springfield City Council meeting to speak out about a proposed new location for the Helping Hands homeless shelter.
After hearing neighbors' concerns, aldermen voted against rezoning the property. Now, Helping Hands is on the search of a new location to help those in need.
"We realize that this is a problem for the city, " Helping Hands president Patti Crouch said. "We are very disappointed in the vote, but we're not giving up."
Currently, Helping Hands is on a month-to-month lease with Contact Ministries.
Crouch said that Contact Ministries has been more than understanding of the difficulties they have been having amd have been very helful during a large time of need.
Now, Helping Hands is looking for the support from the city of Springfield and the community.
"This is a community problem," Crouch said. "It's one that we have to band together in order to solve, so we are expecting their help."
Social service organizations such as Helping Hands and the Salvation Army often look for support from the community. In fact, the Salvation Army went through a similar issue when it needed to relocate.
"It's tough finding raw land," Salvation Army officer Paul Logan said. "It's tough finding a location that all the neighbors will accept you in."
Crouch said there is no specific location in mind. However, there is a possiblity of re-looking at the Madison Street building, which is the current housing of the overflow shelter.
There is no guaranteed future for the Helping Hands, and that doesn't scare Bert Mendenhall, who is currently homeless. He said that he is not afraid of what happens to the organization because he will find a way to survive on the street.
"Just find somewhere warm to stay and enjoy what life gives us," Mendenhall said.
Helping Hands has room to house 33 homeless each night and provide them with dinner and a bed.
Contact Ministries has not set a deadline on when Helping Hands must vacate the space. They are meeting later this month.