Valley Mission is in its 46th year of service, meeting the needs of the homeless and low-income of our community. During these years, the Mission has responded to the changing needs of these populations as our community itself has changed. As we move forward, we will focus our efforts on three areas: housing, program support and space usage.
While these focus areas are broad in nature, we have planned and continue to plan in detail, for we serve a population with varied needs that go far beyond the obvious need of a stable home.
Demand for shelter at the Mission has grown dramatically. The year 2010 saw a 51% increase in shelter nights provided, compared to 2009. In response to this growing demand, in 2010 the Staunton ELKS provided 35 bunk beds for the men’s dormitory, increasing our capacity for single men from 50 to 70. We renovated two large rooms to create women’s dorms which can now house up to 20 single women.
In 2014 the Misson provided a Total Bed nights of 24,225 which equals 66 souls per night on an average, This number included 60% of the residence were women, children, and families.
However, we have not been able to expand our space for families. Our only solution during the 2010-11 winter when we received requests to shelter more single women and families than we had space for was to purchase mats to be put on the floor so that no one had to be sent back out into the cold.
An architectural study is underway to explore options for growth and expansion of the shelter space. High demand for shelter and the resultant overcrowding are serious issues we are working to address. We want to be ready for whatever the winter of 2011 may bring.
Increased Program Support
In the coming year, we will seek additional funding and volunteer participation in the programs offered to shelter residents. We will continue to develop programs which support and provide direction for those seeking to build more stable and productive lives.
The A.S.K. program (Always Seek Knowledge), created in 2010, seeks to educate residents in 4 key areas: Financial, Legal, Nutrition and Health. Our focus is always to help the homeless sheltering at the Mission gain the work and life skills they may need to move toward self-sufficiency, employment and stable housing. Current ASK groups led by area professionals and trained community members are addressing some of these issues. We expect to expand this program in the coming year.
We would like to offer computer skills training in the future. A minimum acquaintance with computers is necessary in so many jobs now, but at the least, computer training would allow residents to perform online job-searches. We envision a computer room at the Mission when space and funds for computer purchase are available.
Valley Mission is committed to offering families the special support they need by designing new programs specifically for them. Families in shelter need support throughout the day, evenings and weekends to promote positive interaction within the family unit. This support may be provided through counseling for the parents, classes in parenting skills, play therapy for the children, after-school child care, and other activities which promote family unity and strengthen communication within the family.
Increased Usage of Current Space
Space utilitzation at Valley Mission is under constant review. As changes in staffing and programming allow, the uses assigned to all spaces are studied to insure that we are using space efficiently and effectively. We have now entered a Design Phase with architects who are conducting a facilities usage study. This effort will insure that all monies spent for renovations provide the Mission the best facility possible for meeting the urgent needs of the people we serve.
For example, in 2010 the Mission's Thrift Store was moved from the basement of the Mission building to a storefront on North Coalter Street. This move allowed the Thrift Store to expand; the customer base has grown and business there is excellent. An added bonus from the Thriftt Store's moveout is that the basement space at the Mission has been made available for expanded and new programming activities.
The GED Program, which is offered by the Adult Learning Center of Valley Vo-Tech, was the first program to utilize the newly available space. Before the Thrift Store move, the GED program met in the Mission dining hall, a busy space not conducive to study. The basement space is also being used for a number of other groups. Some of the space is allocated temporarily as a play area for children. As usage of the basement space is defined in the coming year, renovations will be undertaken to customize the space to its new uses.