Last updated: July 18. 2013 11:07PM - 307 Views
Cris Ritchie

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HAZARD – Local churches in Perry County are beginning to pitch in and help the Corner Haven homeless shelter get back up to full speed, while officials also say a bank account has been opened for anyone who wants to donate funds in the meantime.

Administrators with Community Ministries, the nonprofit organization in Hazard that operates Corner Haven, noted last month that $50,000 would be needed to re-open the homeless shelter full time. At present, due to funding cuts, the shelter only operates during the nighttime hours and closes during the day.

But with winter quickly approaching, some officials say they hope that local churches can begin to pitch in financially to help meet a need for their community.

In addition to his day job as the deputy chief of police for the Hazard Police Department, Joe Engle is also a preacher and well-versed in the gospels. Working on issues such as homelessness, he said, should be a natural for churches and their missions in the community.

“The church has a mission to save souls and lead people to Jesus,” Engle said, “but I think one of the primary missions of the church should be to help the homeless. We can’t depend on the government to do everything for us.”

Engle said he doesn’t expect the county’s churches to provide a permanent solution for the shelter’s finances, but he also realizes that beginning in just a few short weeks the city’s homeless will need a place to go to get out of the cold.

“They’ve got the winter months coming up, and it would be a shame if we let people in this community be outside for 16 and 18 hours a day, out in the weather, single digits, rain and snow,” Engle said. “We’re better than that.”

A few churches have already pledged to help, including one of Perry County’s newest churches in Summit Community Church in Hazard. Mark Combs is the pastor there, and said Summit has pledged at least $1,000 and there could more help coming as groups in the church have contacted Community Ministries to see what else the shelter needs.

“We believe it’s important to help out because, one, as Christians that’s what Jesus did for us,” Combs said. “Jesus came to us when we were most needy, and as Christians he’s given us a heart to love and serve other people. That’s really what we want to do at Summit.”

Though Summit church is only a year old, community service isn’t exactly new for the congregation, and Combs said pledging help for the homeless shelter is a natural progression in that a large part of their mission to the city of Hazard is work to make it a better place.

“Stuff like this is just natural for us as a church, to say we want to help,” Combs continued. “We want to try to be a part of making things better, finding a solution so that the homeless shelter can continue to serve our city and those individuals.”

Engle added that other churches have been in contact as well, and he expects more to step up with help in the coming days. “It’s been positive so far what we’ve heard from the churches,” he said. “I think they’ll step up, and I think they’ll get it done.”

Anyone currently wanting to donate to the shelter can also do so at any branch location of Peoples Bank & Trust in Hazard. Engle explained that Community Ministries Director Adrienne Bush recently set up an account at the bank expressly for donations to the shelter so that anyone donating money can be sure that the funds will make it to the shelter.

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