Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing serves up hope for Thanksgiving

 

Charles Johnson says a prayer at the Dover Interfaith Mission Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Charles Johnson says a prayer at the Dover Interfaith Mission Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — The Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing brought the residents of their Forest Street Shelter a Thanksgiving dinner this year as they have every year since opening for full-time shelter in December 2008.

“We had some turkey and fixings generously donated and our board of directors supplemented the dinner at the shelter with casseroles. So we are able to feed about 40 to 50 people,” said Jeanine Kleimo, chair of the Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing.

They also provided Thanksgiving foodstuffs to their Walt Bagley Hall and other transitional housing facilities.

Their primary shelter houses almost 40 people and their other facilities house an additional 30, said Ms. Kleimo.

“We try to focus on providing a Thanksgiving meal for the residents of our shelter, but we don’t turn anyone who’s homeless away until the food runs out,” said Ms. Kleimo.

“We also refer people to the wonderful contribution Simaron Pizza & Steak Shop on Loockerman street is making. They’ve been doing a great community Thanksgiving dinner for the past few years, as well.”

To staff the dinner, the shelter does take on a few volunteers, but much of the dinner is prepared and served by the residents themselves.

“The men in the shelter do a lot themselves. It’s part of their effort to give to one another, too, and give back to the community,” said Ms. Kleimo.

The Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing has come a long way from starting as a temporary cold-weather shelter in early 2008. According to Ms. Kleimo, they’ve sheltered and assisted 248 homeless men. So far, 179 of them, about 72 percent, acquired jobs before leaving the shelter.

Volunteers from left, Parris and Heidi Patten and Ericka Daniel prepare food for serving at the Dover Interfaith Mission Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.( Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Volunteers from left, Parris and Heidi Patten and Ericka Daniel prepare food for serving at the Dover Interfaith Mission Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.( Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“It’s remarkable to see men move from homelessness and despair to productivity and self-reliance in an average of just 53 days, thanks to the dedicated small staff and many volunteers who coach and advise them,” she said.

The recently opened Walt Bagley Hall is a 30-bed facility that makes it possible for residents who have secured employment and steady but modest incomes to live in a safe and comfortable place.

Most residents at the facility have single or double rooms and share bathing, dining, living, and laundry facilities. A resident manager and cook provides two meals daily so that residents may pay a single fee for all of their housing and basic food costs, said Ms. Kleimo.

Despite their success, the initiative finds itself frequently in financial need to keep offering services. Ms. Kleimo asks that anyone interested in helping to support the mission make a tax deductible contribution.

Volunteer Heidi Patten serves food for the homeless at the Dover Interfaith Mission Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.( Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Volunteer Heidi Patten serves food for the homeless at the Dover Interfaith Mission Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.( Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“Just as we try to catch up, we find that the needs exceed our income,” she said. “Recently, the furnace broke in Walt Bagley Hall and it costs $3,500 to replace.”

Financial contributions may be sent to DIMH at PO Box 1148, Dover DE 19903.

Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at igronau@newszap.com

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