Monday, May 04, 2009

Sanctuary Trust: eliminating homelessness in Shelby County Alabama

Here is a story about a great program that strives to eliminate homelessness in a county of Alabama. The Sanctuary Trust finds homeless people in the county and has a group of churches sponsor the family. The Trust provides a temporary home, while the churches help with other needs, like food or starting savings.

From The Birmingham News, writer Scottie Vickery introduces us to two leaders of the program.

If Ken Flowers and Werner Beiersdoerfer have their way, the issue of homelessness in Shelby County will be eliminated one family at a time.

Already the men, trustees with the Sanctuary Trust for Shelby County, can mark two Montevallo families off their list.

Each of the families -- a father with two daughters and a single mother with five children -- lived for several months in transitional housing provided by the trust.

The Calera-based ministry works with churches to provide free housing, food and other needs to families struggling to get back on their feet. U.S. Census Bureau figures show that 6.9 percent of Shelby County residents live in poverty.
"We can love these people back to life again," said Mark Davis, pastor of Christian Life Fellowship in Calera, which will soon sponsor families in that community.

"We can surround them with the support they need," he said. "It's a great chance to help people put their lives back together after having to endure a lot of hardship and struggle."

And that, Flowers said, is the goal. A Calera businessman who wishes to remain anonymous provided the start-up money for Sanctuary Trust in 2007. Others soon came on board, and the ministry is now privately funded by a small corps of Shelby County businessmen, Flowers said.

Once the trust was formed, Beiersdoerfer and Flowers met with pastors and staff from Shelby County social service agencies to determine what the needs were.

In Shelby County, the trust bought a home in Montevallo in April 2008, and the first two families to go through the program have lived there.

Two duplexes are under construction in Montevallo, and the trust has bought three more lots in the city. In addition, the trust owns five lots in The Glades of Whippoorwill subdivision in Calera, and Flowers hopes construction will begin there as soon as the Montevallo duplexes are finished.

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