SALISBURY — The Christian Shelter in Salisbury celebrated its second major expansion in its three-decade history this week when the ribbon was cut on eight new family rooms, bringing the shelter’s capacity from 50 residents to 80.
“Our numbers began telling us that there was a need for more space, specifically space for homeless families,” said Board member Ted Evans.
According to Evans, homelessness and joblessness in Salisbury has always been a problem, going back well before the shelter first opened its doors in 1979. However, the recent economic plunge has exacerbated the issue, he said, noting that hundreds of people had to be turned away from the shelter last year due to a lack of space.
“The need is always greater than the resources available,” said Evans.
When the shelter first opened, it did so in a building close to its current location, one that could only handle 20 occupants. Eventually, the shelter re-located to where it is today and has been operating under the previous 50-person ceiling for the last 11 years, until this week.
With the additional family rooms opening this summer, shelter representatives say that they will be able to positively impact a much larger portion of the community.
“There’s an unbelievable need for family rooms these days,” said Board member David Smith.
Evans confirmed that the new rooms are at the tail-end of a three-year effort which required securing funding and support from the community. During the ribbon cutting for the new rooms, Evans thanked everyone who had contributed time or money into the project and reminded that the shelter serves as a stewardship for the people most in need.
“We’re responsible for the security and well-being of the men, women, and children here,” he said.
Even with the completion of the new rooms, Smith revealed the shelter still has room to grow in the future.
“The second floor is not finished,” he said, adding that the shelter taking advantage of upstairs space will require a significant effort and unfortunately can’t happen anytime too soon.
“We open things gradually … I think that you have to be cautious in how you expand,” said Evans.