Homeless shelter has ‘one month runway’

Published 10:15 am Thursday, June 13, 2024

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One of Lagrange’s only homeless shelters, Branches of Hope, is in need of funding. Lisa Ellison, the organization’s director of development, said the shelter has about a “one-month runway.”

The shelter is part of the larger Lagrange-Troup County Homeless Coalition (LTCHC). The coalition was started in 2012, by former LaGrange police chief Lou Dekmar, as well as Kay Elam, Mike Pheil and Wanda Walker. 

Over the years the coalition has expanded to include a warming center, resources guides, and in 2022 a brick-and-mortar shelter. Branches of Hope opened on November 27, 2023. Since then, it has served over 200 people. 

Ellison said the shelter has been raising some funds, but during this time of year, people don’t typically give donations. Their funding will run out soon, according to Ellison.

“We just need to get ongoing support so we can keep our doors open,” Ellison said. “If people will give a little bit every month, that will make a world of difference for us.”

The funds go to not only keeping the doors open but to buying food for the dinners and breakfasts served at the shelter.  Ellison hopes with more funding the small staff can add people, as well as expand the services they offer. 

Some facilities cater to specific populations, WayPoint has a full-service veterans center, and Harmony House offers refuge for victims of domestic violence. Branches of Hope works with varied populations. 

With the promise of being open 365 nights a year, the center caters to anywhere from 30 to 42 adults each day. On top of that, Ellison said, they serve around 10 children at any given time. 

Their doors open at 5:00 p.m. every day, before dinner. The residents get a bed, access to a shower, and two meals. The staff encourages them to use the day to go to work or find work if they are unemployed. New guests, get signed in and must read and sign an intake covenant. The paper is an agreement to follow certain guidelines, including no violence. 

The short-term residents stay, on average, 90 days at the center. While there, the small staff works to feed, clothe and provide outreach services to address the causes of chronic homelessness. 

The shelter does have community partnerships, which they hope to add to.

“The needs addressed by [LTCHC] then, and now by the Branches of Hope, continue to grow

and are deserving of the community’s ongoing support. The Community Bank & Trust

family will continue to support their work and encourage other businesses and

individuals to join us in this effort”, stated Bill Stump, Director of Community

Banking at Community and Bank & Trust, in a press release.

We love what we get to do, and we’ve seen lives transformed,” Ellison said. “This is the benefit of having it. We’ve got a guy who came to us in January, and he’s now living on his own and has a moving company.”

For those interested in learning more Ellison encourages community members to tour the facility. She can be reached at Lisa@branchesofhopega.org. To donate go to the shelter’s website at https://www.branchesofhopega.org. The shelter is located at 124 Gordon Commercial Drive for those who are seeking help.