Sunday, December 8, 2013
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The homeless shelter has been a godsend, the couple agrees.
"What would happen if it wasn't here?" Jennifer said.
Betty Palmer, the shelter's executive director, knows the answer to that question only too well.
She understands homelessness and the importance of programs that help people stay on their feet. She has been helping advocates for the homeless in other counties open their own shelters.
"We're really a resource center, not just for homeless persons and families, but for agencies that work with the homeless or community coalitions that want to end homelessness," she said.
Palmer says that typically, most guests at the shelter are children. She has seen families become stronger she said, as a result of having been at the shelter and taken advantage of all of the programs.
"Eighty percent of people that complete our programs are housed and stable and still employed three years later," she said. "We have a less than 10 percent return rate."
Jennifer and Michael are encouraged by these statistics. They say that when they leave the shelter, they will come back to volunteer and show others in a rough spot that things will get better.
Jennifer starts to repeat a phrase she often hears Palmer recite. Smiling, Palmer gives her a little help:
"Working together," she says, "we can end homelessness — one person, one family, one child at a time."
Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 25 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at email@example.com.