Grant aids goal of permanent shelter

Friends and supporters of the Interfaith Community PADS women's program stand outside one of its original sites – the First Presbyterian Church. The nonprofit is raising funds for a permanent home to serve the homeless community in La Porte County.

MICHIGAN CITY – The Michigan City nonprofit that provides temporary emergency shelter for homeless men and women just came one big step closer to its goal of a permanent home.

Interfaith Community PADS (Public Action to Deliver Shelter) has been granted $39,000 from the Arconic Foundation as it continues its fundraising campaign to renovate the Sacred Heart Church on West 8th Street.

The building was gifted to PADS by the Diocese of Gary, but requires about $300,000 in upgrades and updates to serve as a permanent place to help the homeless, according to PADS executive director Harrison Holtkamp.

“We are a very small organization and just became a 501(c)(3) organization in 2017, so a grant of this size shows us that the Arconic team believes in us,” Harry said. “Taking on this project is a huge endeavor for us and Arconic Foundation’s assistance is vital as we work toward our fundraising goal.”

Arconic Foundation partners with nonprofits in the areas where it has roots in order to drive positive impact in these communities, according to Tera Grinnell, Arconic HR director. Arconic is the parent company of the La Porte-based Howmet, a global manufacturer of aerospace industry components that's been in the area for more than 50 years.

“While permanent housing, often coupled with supportive services, is the best way to end homelessness, many individuals and families need stabilization before they can find housing that will meet their long-term needs,” Grinnell said.

“Arconic and Arconic Foundation are honored to support the Sacred Heart renovation, which provides the opportunity for PADS to create a permanent shelter for those struggling with homelessness."

Grinnell said finding shelter is the first step toward ending homelessness.

“Statistics indicate that a permanent shelter can increase the rate at which people can exit from homelessness. The ability to re-focus energy from finding food and shelter to finding employment or other needed resources is a significant shift in helping to transition out of homelessness,” she said.

The needed renovations of the church include new sewer lines, rerunning of water lines, and building of a ramp, as well as new bathrooms, a fire suppression systems and warming kitchen, Holtkamp said. The building is also in need of overall remodeling to create separate shelters for men on the upper level, and women or women with children on the lower level.

“Some of our projects are to bring the building up to code as overnight accommodations," he said. "Our dream is to have the building operational by the second quarter of 2020.

“We see this donation as a wonderful investment in a building that is over 100 years old and we hope it lasts for another 100 years.”

Holtkamp said having one spot for PADS’ services will allow the nonprofit to better offer assistance to needed individuals while streamlining the process for volunteers. Currently, the organization partners with a rotating number of churches to provide shelter, food and other services, which means moving several times a week.

“Our new building is on a bus route and close to other agencies that we work with to help homeless individuals head in a new direction,” Holtkamp said. “We hear a lot that those in need went to the wrong place.”

The connection to Sacred Heart Church will continue as well, he said.

“The food pantry that has been in operation in the basement of Sacred Heart since 1970 will continue,” Holtkamp said. “During our off hours, the pantry will still serve community members on Wednesdays and we are honored to help this needed service carry on.”

Donations can be made through the PADS website at interfaithcommunitypads.in, through the GoFundMe link at gofundme.com/f/permanent-emergency-shelter, or by mailing a check to PO Box 38, Michigan City, IN 46361.

For more information, visit interfaithcommunitypads.in.

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