Give generously for a homeless shelter

Giving shelter to the homeless is one of the most basic of charitable acts, yet people today don’t do it enough. Now everyone in this area has a wonderful opportunity to fulfil that duty, and without taking anyone into your home or finding them a hotel room.

Your generous financial donation is needed to start a homeless shelter in Saranac Lake.

Here in the frigid North Country, homeless people tend to be invisibile to us, but they are here. They couch surf; they beg churches and social services for hotel vouchers; they live in the woods outside of town and in unoccupied cars, barns and hunting camps. Ask anyone who works at a church office, and they’ll tell you.

Therefore, the Christian folks at the Ecumenical Council of Saranac Lake have spent the last three years researching and putting together a detailed plan for a shelter. They have worked out what needs to be done and how to do it, and they have found an old house that would be an excellent fit. To buy the property, however, requires about $160,000 (and then a bit more for renovations), but they only had about $3,000 on hand as of this week. They spent the last three years planning rather than fundraising, but now that the plan is close to realization, there’s a time crunch to round up the money. The house could be bought out from under them at any time.

That’s where you and everyone else in this region comes in. This is not just the Ecumenical Council’s concern; it’s all of ours. This shelter would serve all of Essex County, which currently has no homeless shelter, and the southern half of Franklin County. (There’s already one in Malone.)

There should be no reason for you not to give what you can toward this needed service.

If you doubt the credentials of the Ecumenical Council, be reassured. Not only is it run by extraordinarily smart, savvy and capable people, but it has a fantastic track record. This 501(c)3 charitable organization has founded and then spun off the Saranac Lake Youth Center, the Interfaith Food Pantry and the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. The homeless shelter would likewise become a separate entity.

This shelter would not be a permanent home. The maximum one could stay there would be 60 days, if one was following through on a betterment plan.

If you’re worried that this shelter would draw new homeless people to Saranac Lake and increase their numbers here, think again. The chronically homeless people one might see in cities and warmer climes are not what one can expect here; they tend to be in places with more services. The ones we have are here even though they could go other places that have shelters. Many are our longtime neighbors who are temporarily down on their luck. Others are passing through.

Caring for them is the responsibility of every adult resident of these counties.

Furthermore, it would be cheaper – for taxpayers and for churches – to put them up in a proper shelter than in hotels, as is done now.

Let’s make this happen.