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Community Resource Center Fills Void, Offers a Hand-Up
By Angie Talken, CT

With Chillicothe's location along a busy thoroughfare in northern Missouri, at times those without a place to stay find themselves in the area for a night or two. Not only does the Community Resource Center offer assistance to those people, they also open their doors to residents of the surrounding areas who find themselves without a place to sleep. "If you do not have a place to sleep tonight, then we do," Sherry Wohlgemuth said. "That is what we are here for."

The center, located at 913 Webster Street, has 12 beds and a crib available for those in need, offering a place to stay that is safe, friendly and out of the elements.

However, this winter's bitter cold saw an increased need, and Wohlgemuth said they used air mattresses in an effort to make sure no one had to sleep in the cold.

In addition to providing those without a place to stay a bed, the center offers help with property tax credits, rental assistance for the elderly and disabled, and offer references and referrals to other area services, Wohlgemuth said in an effort to make sure those in need get the assistance they deserve and qualify for. "Some of the paperwork agencies request or require is confusing, especially to the elderly," she said. "Not only with paperwork and referrals, but in any way we can - we help. I have always believed that if you can help, then you need to help."

The non-profit center is facing the same constraints many are; they are losing federal funding at an increasing rate each year. This makes it harder to meet some of the day-today needs at the center. Wohlgemuth said they are blessed to have the support of a variety of local churches, organizations and school groups. A Boy Scout even replaced the flooring in the day room as his Eagle Scout project recently. However, there is still a need for every day items and volunteers.

Ongoing needs include: toilet paper, laundry soap, personal hygiene items, office supplies, paper, cleaning supplies, shampoo for rug cleaner, silverware, glasses, plates, cups, towels seasonal clothes and other items as residents transition into their own housing.

Wohlgemuth said any donations can be dropped off at the side door of the center and suggested those wishing to donate call and make sure there is staff or volunteers on hand to help unload the items. The organization is lead by Wohlgemuth and a board of seven.

While the center is seeking volunteers, they are also helped by two residents who serve as resident managers during their stay. Wohlgemuth said that there are some residents of the center who stay for a period of time. Those residents stay until they are able to get back on their feet and secure housing. It is during that time that Wohlgemuth and other works to help them with learning budgeting and securing the things they need to have a safe, successful transition into their own housing. There are plans underway to start a mentorship program as well.

There are rules strictly enforced for those staying at the center. Everyone who stays must pass a background check at the police department, must be working toward a goal, and must be willing to do their part not only to help further themselves but around the center while they are staying. "We know there are barriers, and we know and recognize that each situation is different," she said. "We also know the best way to help is offering a hand-up, and that is what we do and everyone is most appreciative of that."

Wohlgemuth said many people are shocked to hear that there are homeless people in Chillicothe and that the most shocking is the number of homeless young people. "There is a definite need in this community - there are people without a place to call home, and many of them are younger, many of them fly under the radar because they do what they need to do during the day - but sadly have no place to go home to."

Wohlgemuth encourages anyone to reach out to the center and ask for assistance should they ever need it. "We are here to help and will help in any way we can," she said. "We just ask that you be willing to help yourself as much as we are willing to."

For more information about the center, to donate, or volunteer, call 660-646-1667.

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