Cape homeless shelter opens thrift store on Broadway

Friday, May 7, 2010
Debbie White, Secretary of the Shelter of Hope Board of Directors, takes a look around after the grand opening of the Shelter of Hope Thrift Store on Broadway Street in Cape Girardeau, Mo., on Thursday, May 6, 2010. (Kristin Eberts)

The effort to create a locally controlled and operated homeless shelter in Cape Girardeau got a boost Thursday when Shelter of Hope opened a thrift store at 733 Broadway.

Chaplain Terry Wildman, director of the shelter effort, said the store will offer hygiene kits and meals for homeless people in the Cape Girardeau area and be used as the service center for a homeless shelter planned at 320 S. Sprigg St.

"This is the nurturing part of the ministry," Wildman said.

Along with the new store, which will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Shelter of Hope supporters have been steadily raising money to convert the old pool hall on Sprigg Street into an emergency residence.

The Rev. Bob Towner, pastor of Christ Episcopal Church and a member of the Shelter of Hope board, turned over a $3,500 check from a fundraiser Sunday. That brings the money on hand to about half of the $35,000 to $40,000 estimate for conversion costs.

Former mayor Jay Knudtson, U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh and former mayor Al Spradling III are putting together a support organization to raise the remainder and help support operations at the shelter. Knudtson has become an enthusiastic supporter of Wildman's cause since being shown people living in Cape Girardeau who need the help of a shelter.

When the Rev. Larry Rice, founder of the New Life Evangelistic Center, applied a year ago to take over the surplus federal building at 339 Broadway, Knudtson led the effort to block the application. Rice proposed putting a small emergency shelter and transitional housing apartments into the building.

At the time, Knudtson said there was no significant homeless problem in the city and argued that the building is far too large for use as a shelter.

"What I saw throughout that process touched me in a big way," Knudtson said. "I was fighting the fact that we had a homeless issue and burying my head in the sand. We do have issues. We can do better. It was important after I left office for me to put my money and passion where my mouth was."

Other prominent people who have joined the effort to raise the money needed include Kevin Greaser from Alliance Bank and former Missouri secretary of state Bekki Cook, Knudtson said.

A building permit should be issued soon and work can begin in earnest at 320 S. Sprigg St., Wildman said. Volunteers with expertise in carpentry, plumbing and electrical work have signed up to help and there is enough money to buy materials to get started, he said. The shelter is planned to provide beds for six men and six women, with cots available to house more on nights when the weather is hazardous.

The new thrift store is just a few doors down from a similar operation begun by Rice and New Life, with Wildman's help, in November. That store, labeled "Cape Girardeau Homeless Outreach and Thrift Store" on the window, has been expanded to include beds for the homeless on the second floor, Rice said Thursday.

A room for six men has been prepared and is being used, Rice said. A second room to accommodate four women is also being prepared and should be ready next week, he said.

After being turned down for the federal building, New Life filed a lawsuit in Washington, D.C., challenging the ruling. In December, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to reconsider the decision. No word from the department has been received since then, Rice said.

"We have been waiting, and our attorney plans to find out why HHS hasn't responded," he said.

The Shelter of Hope store, to contrast with New Life's store, calls itself "The True Cape Girardeau Homeless Outreach Thrift Store."

Wildman acknowledged there is some competition with Rice. It is based on a belief that Rice wants self-promotion, Wildman said. "He is in the business of homelessness, not helping people," he said.

Rice, who called the competition "childish," said he welcomes all efforts to help those in need. "I find it very amusing to say the least," he said. "But if this helps more people to get help, we know there is a lot of need out there."

rkeller@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

733 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, MO

320 S. Sprigg St., Cape Girardeau, MO

707 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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