GREENSBORO, N.C. – Amid cheers and applause, officials on August 9 launched the final steps toward making a permanent home for a day center for Greensboro’s homeless residents.

 

Donning hard hats and wielding shovels, local leaders broke ground on the Interactive Resource Center (IRC), to be located at 407 E. Washington St.

 

“All of us have the opportunity and the challenge to meet the goal that we dream of,” said Skip MacMillan, IRC chair. “As we symbolically break ground today, it signifies a significant step forward, a step that will require the collective support of all of you and many more who share this dream. We cannot do this alone. We need your help and your continued support.

 

The IRC will provide a refuge for homeless residents – a place where they can receive counseling, use a computer to look for jobs or even take a shower. An interim facility opened in early January 2009 in space provided by Bessemer United Methodist Church on East Bessemer Avenue.

 

Extensive renovations will be made at the permanent, Washington Street site to accommodate the IRC’s mission. The Phase One 12,500-square-foot facility will include classrooms, counseling quarters, a sick room for a nurse and patients, a “quiet room,” a computer room, conference space, a laundry room, space for a barber and locker rooms.

 

Renovations, estimated to cost about $740,000, are expected to be completed by the end of the year, officials said.

 

“A number of organizations have come together in this effort,” said Louise Brady, chair of The Community Foundation. “City and county governments have put their money where their hearts are and contributed significant funding. The Partners Ending Homelessness Initiative – under the umbrella of United Way of Greater Greensboro – is tackling a 10-year plan to end homelessness in our city. And the IRC itself is helping thousands of people get control of their life and putting them on the right track toward self-sufficiency. We should all be proud of what we are accomplishing together with this important project.”

 

In 2009, the family of Richard Strasser gave to The Community Foundation the building they owned on East Washington Street. The site was the longtime home of the family’s business, Southern Plate & Window Glass Co., which relocated.

 

When making their gift, the Strassers specified their desire that it be used for a day center for people experiencing homelessness in the Greensboro area.

 

Not long ago, a Homeless Point in Time count estimated there are more than 1,200 people experiencing homelessness in Guilford County, according to Partners Ending Homelessness.

 

Partners Ending Homelessness is an initiative that focuses on actively implementing, evaluating and updating Guilford County’s 10-Year Plan to end chronic homelessness. A leading partner in pursuing the creation of a Day Center in Greensboro, Partners Ending Homelessness focuses on generating housing, strengthening prevention and supportive service efforts and increasing coordination and access through the continuum of care in our community.

 

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About the Interactive Resource Center (IRC)

Serious discussions about establishing a day center in Greensboro – one of the strategies outlined in the Guilford County 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness – began in early 2008 when City Council member T. Dianne Bellamy-Small convened a task force that included government officials, homeless people, representatives of faith communities, social service agencies and concerned citizens. In November 2008 the task force decided to open an interim day center called the Interactive Resource Center at Bessemer United Methodist Church to help people through the hard winter of 2008-09.

 

In March 2009, The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro announced the gift from the Richard Strasser family of a 22,000-square-foot building at 407 E. Washington St. to house a day center for homeless people. The task force decided to keep the IRC going in its current location until the new building is ready. Completion is projected by the end of 2010.

 

In August 2009 the Interactive Resource Center received independent tax status. The IRC is a 501(c)(3) private nonprofit organization.

 

From the beginning the IRC has taken a peer-based approach, with much of the planning led by people who have experienced or are currently experiencing homelessness. Many of its volunteers first came to the IRC looking for services and have stayed to help others.

 

Since the IRC opened in January 2009 it has served close to 1,000 individual people.

 

What the IRC does:

·                     Social work interns from A&T and UNCG work one-on-one four days a week to help guests connect with services and remove barriers to their self-sufficiency.

·                     A nurse is available three mornings a week for blood pressure screenings, blood sugar testing, counseling and referrals to other health care resources.

·                     A bag lunch, provided by community churches and organizations, is served daily.

·                     Shower and laundry are available daily on a first-come first-served basis.

·                     After an intake and assessment, guests can receive referrals to local agencies for food, clothing, furniture and financial assistance.

·                     Volunteers in the computer lab can help with basic computer skills, resume writing and online applications. In a typical week two to four guests find permanent employment through our employment assistance program.

 

For more information, visit www.gsodaycenter.org

 

About Partners Ending Homelessness Initiative

Partners Ending Homelessness is an initiative that focuses on actively implementing, evaluating and updating Guilford County’s 10-Year Plan to end chronic homelessness. The Partners Ending Homelessness initiative focuses on generating housing, strengthening prevention and supportive service efforts, and increasing coordination and access through the continuum of care in our community. More information is available at www.PartnersEndingHomelessness.org

 

 

About The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, Inc.

The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro is a charitable organization dedicated to strengthening the community for present and future generations. The Community Foundation promotes philanthropy, builds and maintains a permanent collection of endowment funds, and serves as a trustworthy partner and leader in shaping effective responses to community issues and opportunities.

The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro is a charitable organization dedicated to strengthening the community for present and future generations. The Community Foundation promotes philanthropy, builds and maintains a permanent collection of endowment funds and serves as a trustworthy partner and leader in shaping effective responses to community issues and opportunities.

 

For more information, visit www.cfgg.org