» By MORGAN SMITH – firstname.lastname@example.org
Organizations in Clarksville such as The Salvation Army and Lighthouse Ministries’ Safe Harbor are spreading hope among the homeless for the holidays.
According to statistics provided by the Old Firehouse Day Shelter, there are 300-500 homeless in Clarksville. There are also an estimated 2,000 vagrants, those who move from place to place with no fixed home.
Safe Harbor’s Program Chaplain, Michael Williams said, “In Clarksville, there’s a lot homelessness going on. We’ve got large numbers of them.
If you just drive down Kraft Street early in the morning, you’ll see them. And it’s men and women. Unfortunately, sometimes you see kids with them too.”
Although the numbers are high, the communities’ shelters are working together to help get people off the streets.
Clarksville Salvation Army’s Cadet in Charge, Sarah Quinn said, “In Clarksville, we have the benefit of having more than one organization actively seeking to meet the needs of the homeless in the community.
The Salvation Army seeks to provide a safe place where people can stay while they get on their feet, and we also seek to provide the necessary resources for people to meet their needs as they seek stable housing and employment.
Many times, this involves partnering with community agencies who specialize in specific areas, so that we do not duplicate services and so that the most needs can be met in the community.
We hope that as we continue to receive support from the community, we can begin extending our services to the homeless over time so as to provide better and more complete services that go further in helping them to move forward.”
Homelessness isn’t the only issue being treated by the shelters in Clarksville. Safe Harbor is a place exclusively for “disenfranchised men”.
According to Williams, the program seeks out men who are not only homeless but fresh out of jail or battling an addiction problem.
Safe Harbor even uses different wording when referring to their services. “We don’t like to say shelter, we like to say recovery because we have guys that come in and are then able to recapture and rebuild their lives.
We also find jobs for them, once we’ve found jobs for them, we’re responsible for taking them into work on time, we get them back from work, send them to work with a lunch. We provide three meals a day.
We encourage them. We’re a faith-based mission. We feel is a man is going to change, we really feel that Jesus is the way to go,” Williams said.
Safe Harbor isn’t in the business of giving handouts. They insist on giving men a “hand-up” and “making them feel like men again,” Williams said.
The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and cheer. Often those who are homeless feel the exact opposite when the holidays roll around.
Williams of Safe Harbor says, “A lot of times, around this time of year, the men start getting kind of melancholy about family and being homeless and whatever their situation may be.”
The programs around Clarksville aim to relieve some of disappointment the homeless feel this time of year. Quinn said, “The Salvation Army is very active during the holiday season.
Many people have already seen our red kettles at local stores and our Angel Trees around town.
Our Red Kettle Campaign is our chief fundraiser for the year, providing the largest portion of our operating budget for the year.
“As such, it plays a vital role in our efforts to help the community. Our Angel Tree program is specifically designed to help provide gifts to children whose families are struggling financially this holiday season,” Quinn said.
Safe Harbor recovery program offers a special holiday feast for the holidays to lift the mens’ spirits. But most of all, this holiday season,
Williams said, “We offer stability, safety, a roof, a clean place to lay down, lights. Prayer is important. We pray everyday. When they come in we like to say, ‘welcome home.’ So there is no homelessness for them during the holidays.”
Both the Salvation Army of Clarksville and Safe Harbor can’t support the homeless of Clarksville alone. Community involvement, donations and support are needed.
Anyone looking to give back to the community this holiday season is encouraged to contact the Safe Harbor offices at 931-503-3000 or the Salvation Army at 931-553-8494 and ask for more information. TAS