The Allentown warming station at the Fountain Pool House off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive will be leased and operated by Everlasting Life Ministries during the coming winter season under contract with the city’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.
The warming station hosted 310 male and female unique guests last winter. It will open for the coming season on Tuesday, November 8.
Everlasting Life Ministries is headed by Pastor Gus Al-Khal of Bethany EC Church at 224 N. Sixth Street in the city and Outreach Coordinator Gary Millspaugh, former executive director of the Allentown Rescue Mission.
Pastor Gus has 35 years of experience serving Allentown’s most impoverished citizens and is widely respected for long running programs to aid the needy.
Millspaugh led the Rescue Mission for 21 years. His educational, job training, addiction recovery and housing programs led thousands of clients to better lives.
Mayor Ed Pawlowski said, “Our goal remains to get homeless families and individuals into permanent shelter. As a society, the price tag for getting the chronically homeless into housing is much less than the cost to address issues through the healthcare and local law enforcement systems. The warming station is needed to keep homeless persons out of life-threatening cold.”
“I appreciate the mayor’s confidence in Pastor Gus and me,” said Millspaugh. “This is indeed a challenge, working with the highest need population, during the coldest weather. Mayor Pawlowski is right, in that our goal needs to be to move homeless people forward, into permanent shelter, programs of restoration, and to where they can leave behind their crises. This effort has a great assembly of partners, who will provide breakfasts in their churches, referrals to programs and housing, longer term shelter, on site Street Medicine and Parish Nursing and more.”
The warming station will be open from 7pm to 7am, seven days a week. Up to 38 bunk beds, blankets, bathrooms, showers and a separate and secure area for personal belongings will be available to clients.
First time visitors will be asked for personal information, health and medication information and any agency affiliation.
The City of Allentown and Lehigh County are each contributing $25,000 toward warming station operations. The city allocation will come from CDBG program funds. Lehigh Valley Community Foundation has provided $11,000. Organizers need to raise another $26,000 to meet the $87,000 budget to fund operations through April 2017.
In addition to the warming station, the city will provide $30,000 to the Sixth Street Shelter, $30,000 to the Allentown Rescue Mission, $30,000 to the Salvation Army and $82,811 to the Lehigh Conference of Churches Pathways Rapid Re-housing Program.
The Salvation Army and the Allentown Rescue Mission both operate shelters in the city with 90 emergency beds total.
The Fountain Park Warming Station is the result of collaborative discussions involving a number of community organizations — the city, the county, Everlasting Life Ministries, Lehigh Conference of Churches, Allentown Rescue Mission, Salvation Army Hospitality House, Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, Victory House, First Presbyterian Church, Allentown, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Union Baptist Church, Zion’s UCC Liberty Bell Church and Parish Nurses of Sacred Heart Hospital.