With its new facility, Bethlehem House in Conway looks less like a traditional homeless shelter, and more like a supportive space for families and individuals in transition.
The shelter and programs will be housed under one roof at 1115 Parkway Street in about a week, sharing 7,300 square feet of office, living and work space.
The new facility is a few blocks from where the shelter has operated at 930 Faulkner Street out of a 1912, 3,200 square foot Victorian-style home that has kept residents, volunteers and staff busy with its upkeep.
Being under one roof will be possible again after the programs and residents outgrew the Faulkner Street home.
Currently residents and staff are spread between three buildings.
A large laundry room, multiple bathrooms, an industrial kitchen, and an eating space for 60 are all welcome features in the new facility.
Bethlehem House offers a daily soup kitchen, access to a food pantry, and shower and laundry services to non-residents as well as residents along with the shelter services.
Mealtimes have been a challenge with outdated, non-industrial fixtures and a small kitchen.
The shelter’s capacity has grown to 11 bedrooms and the ability to house 35 transitional residents.
Two bedrooms will be used for emergency shelter for up to eight individuals who have short-term needs or have fallen on hard times.
The new facility has a computer lab and conference room, where Director Judi Lively said residents will be assisted in job searches and training.
The lab space will also be used for hosting life skills classes, such as parenting and money management.
A playroom on the second floor of the building and a large outdoor playground have been incorporated for the program’s younger residents.
“This building is a result of this community coming together to build it,” Lively said. “This is a real picture of how the community as a whole cares about those in need.”
Bethlehem House completed a $1.3 million capital campaign in December 2012 to build the facility.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1236, or on Twitter @Courtneyism. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)