ROCK ISLAND — Christian Care in Rock Island celebrated a milestone last weekend.
The Center opened a new dorm room with six beds that will provide an additional 2,190 nights of shelter per year for homeless men in the Quad-Cities.
“It is a bittersweet celebration because we are happy to be able to help more people, but it is also a reminder that more people are still in need,” Steve Gottcent, community outreach coordinator at Christian Care, said.
He said he expected the new beds to be filled within 48 hours of the opening of the new dorm room.
“We are connecting with other area organizations to identify men who are still in need,” he said. “We contact each person first to determine if they are still in need and then the men have 24 hours to report to Christian Care to check in.”
“The men do have to pass an alcohol test when they arrive, and then we conduct an ‘intake’ interview,” he said. “These interviews are primarily designed to obtain key information so we can get them on the path to recovery to getting back on their feet.”
Cost of renovating what had been a storage room into a dorm room with six beds, lockers and paint, was estimated at $2,300, and the entire cost was covered through a grant from the Scott County Regional Authority.
With the additional beds, there are now 42 beds at Christian Care to serve homeless men in the community.
In addition to the increased need for more beds at Christian Care, the hot and humid temperatures bring an increase to countless area residents who struggle to stay cool, and those people are welcome to spend time at Christian Care, 2209 3rd Ave., Rock Island.
“Summer can be a harsh time in the Quad-Cities for many in our community, and as the temperature and heat indexes rise, many people find it difficult to stay cool. Christian Care is dedicated to helping the less fortunate by opening its doors as an Emergency Cooling Center when temperatures are 90 degrees and above,” Gottcent said.
Christian Care Center operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and all services are provided free to clients.
The staff at Christian Care doesn’t ask questions of those who visit the Center for a meal, but they are aware of an increase in the number of men, women and children who are coming in from the heat.
“We don’t ask questions of why people come to our meal site, we only ask if they are hungry,” Gottcent said.
What Gottcent does know is that there is a need for help — a need for volunteers to help serve meals as well as any groups or organizations willing to prepare and serve a meal.
People who come to the Center to get relief from the heat are allowed to sit in the dining room area, watch television, read and play cards, engage in conversations or put their heads down and nap.
Anyone needing assistance is welcome at the Center between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday; and from 1 to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. They can also come for meals — breakfast served at 6:30 a.m., lunch at 12:15 p.m. and dinner at 6:30 p.m.
“As long as they are not disruptive to our work or residents, they are allowed to be on the premises,” Gottcent said.
“We don’t track the number of individuals who come in to get out of the heat, but we do track the number of folks who utilize the Community Meal Site at the Center, and we are finding that meal site numbers have increased from the spring but are roughly the same as last summer,” Gottcent said
The Center’s ministries include a Community Meal Site that serves over 47,000 meals annually.
There also is a clothing room with men’s clothes and personal hygiene items that can be accessed by residents and nonresidents.
Through a partnership with UnityPoint – Trinity Parish Nursing & Health Ministry, Christian Care also offers on site consultative and basic medical services for individuals experiencing homelessness and living in poverty, Gottcent said.
“This partnership is designed to take steps to improve the quality of life and enhance the impact of health care needs for our community’s most vulnerable population,” he said. The Parish Nurse program is open to residents and nonresidents from noon to 1 p.m. every Wednesday during the lunch hour.”
Anyone who would like to help Christian Care financially can become a Bridge Builder, a monthly donor that will help create a bridge that moves people off the street and into safe, long term, supportive living, Gottcent said, and added, “This program provides shelter, food and resources to the people we serve."
Contributions can include:
• $10/month provides three meals a day for one person.
• $40/month provides three meals and a night of shelter.
• $280/monthy provides a week (seven days) of food and shelter.
For more information about the program, visit the website at christiancareqc.org.
“Christian Care is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization committed to ending homelessness, using Christian values to minister to those in crisis and providing the tools necessary to achieve positive change," Gottcent said, and added, “It is our vision that the people we serve will become self-sufficient and productive members of society.”
The mission statement of Christian Care is “By providing safe shelter, support and resources, Christian Care empowers the homeless to make positive changes in every aspect of their lives.”