684 Forest Street Dover, DE 19904 302-736-3600
Mission Statement: We are an interfaith community organization addressing the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of homeless men in the Greater Dover area by providing them with shelter and sustenance, fostering self-reliance, and offering encouragement and a vision of hope for their lives.
IF YOU NEED SHELTER: Call Cathi Kopera at 302-943-7633 between 10AM and 4PM or stop in the office between 4:00 and 5:00 PM on weekdays.
IF YOU CAN HELP WITH MEALS, please call Cathi at 943-7633 or email Sue at email@example.com and indicate dates you are interested in.
What an eventful year!
Photo: Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing
The Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing continues to operate our shelter for homeless men, serving 165 men since the first of the year and 900 or more since program inception. Over 100 of them have obtained work in our community. 100 men earning just minimum wage put $1.5 million back into our local economy! This is more than one hundred times the DIMH annual operating budget:evidence that what we do here is efficient and has a real impact.
In April, DIMH purchased an office building at 1155 Walker Road.This two-story building has 6,000 square feet and is being converted to a 32-bed facility for men with stable income and a need for affordable housing. Most will move from the shelter, making it possible for men to move on more quickly. Residents will have single or double rooms with shared facilities and will receive two meals daily. Rental fees will typically require 50% of their income for housing, utilities, food, and access to DIMH facilities and services. Weekly classes will enable residents to continue to improve their employment opportunities, while local nursing and nutrition students will focus on improving residents’ health.
New Walker Road Shelter. Photo courtesy of Delaware State News.
The “deal” to purchase the building included owner financing, a loan from NCALL Research, and grants from the Longwood Foundation, Delaware Community Foundation, Bank of America, Kent County Levy Court, West Legacy Trust, M&T Bank, and donations from a number of churches and individuals.All help to make the project affordable.
In July, DIMH was awarded grants to employ a full-time Case Manager as well as a Program Manager for the Walker Road project, which has been named Walt Bagley Hall in honor of our beloved colleague and founding board treasurer who passed away in early July. Case Manager Elisheva Gibson has an MSW from Delaware State University and assists current and recent shelter guests to secure and maintain employment, housing, and access to needed services. Program Manager Alfredia Russ-Durant comes to DIMH from many years of work with shelters and youth programs. She selects residents for Walt Bagley Hall and coordinates health and nutrition assistance.We are grateful to have both of these talented women working with us.
DIMH set up a construction company — Dover Community Construction — to employ current and former shelter guests. Over 25 men have obtained employment through this company, which is headed by a former shelter guest as well.Most work at Walt Bagley Hall is being performed by this talented group of men. They renovated an entire house that was given to DIMH by the Delaware State Housing Authority through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program along with renovation costs. The resulting home provides permanent residence to three former shelter guests whose incomes are reliable but limited.Donations of furniture and household items made it possible for residents to move in quickly.
A grant from the Potter Trust is being split between renovations at Walt Bagley Hall and further business development which includes the creation of a cleaning company in partnership with The Shepherd Place called Windows, Floors, and More! that will employ residents of both shelters. Additional ventures will include automobile repair training and landscaping along with transportation services for those employed. These efforts will make it possible for DIMH to increase employment among those whose prior incarceration or other challenges make obtaining work difficult.
As transportation is always a challenge for shelter guests, we were blessed by Washington College and their willingness to donate bicycles left behind by former students. These are made road-worthy by shelter guests and volunteers so that they are ready to ride by those who need local transportation.
We continue to benefit from the dedication of our Intake Coordinator (and surrogate mother to most of the men,) Cathi Kopera, and the men who serve as evening and overnight supervisors.
Of course, we could not operate without the support of the many faith communities, organizations, families and individuals who provide dinner each night at the shelter. We meet with our shelter guests weekly and asked them one night what they thought it cost to provide dinners for a month. Most guessed in the thousands of dollars, and all were shocked when told that we had no food budget at all. We emphasize to shelter guests that our work depends on volunteers from the community, and that we expect them to volunteer as well. Shelter guests have provided volunteer assistance in the development of the bike shop, the new permanent residence on Ross Street, and at Walt Bagley Hall as well as in the shelter, where much of the maintenance is performed by residents.
Our Board of Directors continues to work hard and, as always, is drawn from our most active faith communities. We welcome those who wish to serve on the board, provided that they have time and energy to devote to our mission. Two board members are among a very active group of five volunteers who conduct a “job readiness” class on Tuesday evenings. This class includes sessions on individual skill assessment, drafting a resume, preparing for job interviews, and other topics that enable shelter guests to be better prepared to apply for employment. Board member Breeta Littlefield, who serves as Education and Training Coordinator, also leads a team of five DelTech interns — all of them adult men who have chosen to assist the homeless. Janet Krauss is adapting curricula to be more suited to residents of Walt Bagley Hall. Former guest Jeff Shockley serves as board secretary and substitute receptionist. Others organize events and work with their faith communities to engage volunteers.
Herb Konowitz — DIMH vice chair — continues to oversee DIMH business operations including our banking. He has forged a new relationship with TD Bank, which provides training to shelter guests and facilitates their access to new accounts. Sue Harris works with Cathi Kopera to ensure that there is dinner every evening at the shelter. Rev. Cheryl Evans works at the shelter routinely and serves as DIMH chaplain. Kathy Lessard has stepped in to serve as treasurer and regularly keeps financial data current on QuickBooks. Terry Jaywork has committed major amounts of time and professional legal assistance to permit DIMH to acquire properties and to document agreements. Bernie Henry employs his technical skill for both bike shop operations and for site improvements. Jeanine Kleimo, Chair, keeps writing grant proposals and related reports and invoices and meets with staff and shelter guests weekly. We are also fortunate to have a wonderful team of office volunteers to keep phones answered and mail, copies, and faxes moving as they should.
We hope to open Walt Bagley Hall in late January. With shelter and transitional housing residents, this means that 80 men will be residing in DIMH-sponsored housing.
Our business ventures are ready to renovate or power wash your home, cut your grass and do yardwork, clean your house or business (including windows), or repair your bicycle or car. Please call Ozzie at 399-3527 for an estimate.
A double-wide trailer will be erected next to the shelter to provide a “day center” for homeless individuals on the street to obtain information about shelter, employment, services and other needs. We need daytime volunteers to help!
We Still Need Your Help:
DIMH is trying to initiate business ventures that will generate both employment for the homeless and a stream of revenue for the organization. While we are overjoyed at receiving grants to start businesses and to employ some staff, we still lack administrative staff along with resources for many needed expenditures, from bus passes to equipment repairs and office supplies. $78,500 comes to DIMH in operating grants for the shelter compared with a budget of $147,000.The shortfall comes from donations. Surely no organization does more with less resources than DIMH!
We invite you to contribute to make it possible for us to continue to do all that we do.
THANK YOU for your support, your interest, and your prayers. We are glad to be a part of a generous and diverse community of faith and concern for the homeless.
We wish you all blessings for a season of joy and peace and a new year rich with the blessing of helping others.