Teresa Sellers and Jenny Summers

Teresa Sellers donated a large box of pillowcases to Grace Harbor, represented by Jenny Summers.

After months of work, prayers and a lot of goodwill and donations, GRACE Harbor has opened its doors on Fourth Street.

The announcement of the shelter was made in February, and volunteers have been working hard to prepare a place for those in Dent County without a home.

The shelter is not intended for transient populations, organizers say. The ultimate goal of GRACE Harbor is to create a home atmosphere and help turn lives back on track.

The plan for the shelter is to give priority to youth, children and their parents.

Patrons will have access to counselors, GED classes, tutors, Bible studies and other activities at the shelter. Volunteers will assist with job searches and finding permanent placement in a home of their own.

When the call was made that GRACE needed items to make the location a home, it was answered. Each bedroom, common space, bathroom and kitchen is stocked and awaiting youth and other patrons in need of support.

Volunteers are what will make the shelter a success, agreed committee members in a recent interview.

“We got the ball rolling but now we need community support, we need manpower,” said Jenny Summers, one of the founding committee members for the shelter.

“I know we have people in need of this shelter. There were three messages on the phone the other day when I came in,” she shared.

Two people are needed, when possible, every single hour of the day. A schedule will be maintained with blocks of time volunteers can sign up for. The shelter is fully volunteer-based, there are no salaried positions on staff.

During the interview with committee members, Karen Carmier, Kathy Bryant and Summers, they all stressed the fact that volunteering is mainly needed to cover various shifts within the shelter.

Even a couple of hours can make a huge difference in the efficiency of the shelter.

While any hours spent assisting the shelter are appreciated, the shifts where volunteers are physically present in the shelter are the most sought volunteer opportunities at this time.

A couple of meetings have been held to contact those interested in volunteering - about a dozen people attended. His Place Soup Kitchen has already reached out to assist by providing meals on Friday night.

For safety and effectiveness of in-house volunteers, mandatory training with Safe Gatherings is required. Volunteers must have a valid driver’s license and be at least 20 years of age.

Overnight volunteers are especially needed.

After conversations with a variety of educators, it became evident that a housing need is there.

“You don’t see the homeless in Dent County like you do in larger cities, but they are still there,” said Bryant.

The group encourages schools and law enforcement to assist in identifying those in need of the services provided at the shelter. There is no plan to use government grants, as the shelter will rely heavily on monetary gifts and donations.

Follow the Grace Harbor Facebook page or visit https://graceharbor21.wixsite.com/website-1

Monetary donations can be deposited at The Bank of Salem, or mailed to Salem United Methodist Church, with attention to Grace Harbor.