W. Ky. church opens doors to homeless

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Associated Press

Posted on January 27, 2013 at 11:01 AM

HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A western Kentucky church has turned its basement into a daytime shelter for homeless people.

The Rev. Emmanuel Luther told the Kentucky New Era (http://bit.ly/UikrWR) that the shelter opened this month at Freeman Chapel CME Church in Hopkinsville. The shelter will be open seven days a week until 5 p.m., which the Salvation Army opens its doors for the night.

Luther said he decided to take the action after being approached by a woman who asked to spend the night at the church because she had nowhere else to go. He said the encounter opened his eyes to issues facing homeless people in the area and he wanted to do something to help.

"Several times we've had people who just knocked on the door at the church and said, 'can we just sit in there for a while?'" Luther said. "If a person is homeless, there's nowhere within the Christian County area that they're able to find somewhere to get out of the weather or to sit down and regroup."

He said the shelter will provide a restroom, television and light refreshments like hot coffee, juice and snacks. Although he estimated up to 95 people might visit the shelter, he said he expects costs — mainly for utilities and janitorial staff — to remain low.

"It's not a heavy expense because the church is already open and the lights are already on," Luther said.

He said the church will pay the costs for now, but plans to apply for grants to help defray expenses.

Luther said the church is just trying to help the community.

"We're a Christian organization, so we definitely have to take into consideration the needs of the people, regardless of if they're in our church or any other church," shelter director Ira Owens said. "It's about having a helping hand and reaching out."

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