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Shelter Services to host fundraiser

Business offers matching donation for homeless if shelter reaches its goal

LEWISTOWN — Have you ever wondered what it is like to be homeless?

With cooperation from local community leaders, youth groups, and students, Shelter Services will set up a homeless encampment at Kishacoquillas Park to simulate just that.

The event ìThe Great Escape from Homelessnessî will put community members in a scenario with a backstory that caused their homelessness. Participants will be presented with a budget and given the amount they would need to help them escape homelessness, said Jane Neff, Shelter Services director.

It will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Green Pavilion.

The goal is for participants to make phone calls to family, friends, and organizations to get pledges to raise money for the shelter, which suffered a 25% loss in its annual funding ìor about $50,000î from 2020, Neff said.

All funds will remain local and help the shelter maintain complete 24/7 services.

While advertising for the event, one small business owner — who preferred to keep their name anonymous — offered to donate $20,000 to the shelter, if it can raise $20,000 by Thanksgiving, which could be the difference between whether the shelter might have to cut services.

Neff expressed gratitude for the businessí sacrifice.

ìThis is not a multimillion-dollar business that did this; itís just a humble business owner,î Neff said. ìThey realize that life is not about our own comforts. Itís about helping others.î

With the $50,000 loss in funding, the shelter has had to turn some people away from the services it usually offers.

ìWeíre currently having to tell people we have no money to prevent their water shutoff,î she said.

And now that eviction freezes are lifted and pandemic unemployment has stopped, people may need the funds more than ever.

Another goal of the fundraiser, Neff said, is to teach compassion and create community awareness.

ìWe would like to show that there are individuals out there who are hurting, and sometimes itís from no fault of their own,î Neff said. ìWe have single moms who have been here because their husband died. We have elderly people who got sick, ended up in the hospital, and the landlord gave their apartment away. We have individuals whose families have turned their backs on them.î

The shelter serves about 100 people each year and provides services to another 120 with clothing, food and assistance with utilities. However, without proper funding, the shelter has had to turn down more people for services.

Services include:

¯Goal setting for housing

¯Teaching residents how to do job interviews

¯Connecting them with resources like CareerLink and mental health services

¯Teaching them how to be a good tenant

ìWe work hard to keep them moving forward in a productive way so their futures are brighter for them and they can be more successful.î

Individuals can also make donations by sending a check payable to Shelter Service Inc, 13 Depot St., Lewistown, Pa. 17044, with ìMatch Challengeî on the memo line.

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