For the past six years, the Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing has been building up a network of facilities to accommodate the area's homeless men.
It started small, with men being housed in some of the organization's 47 participating churches. Today, the organization operates three transitional houses and has served more than 600 men since 2008.
Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing's newest undertaking is a new facility on Walker Road. The 6,000-square-foot building is being converted from office space into a shelter that will house young men who have aged out of the foster care system, disabled American veterans and homeless men. The facility will have the capacity to house 32 men at a time. Those who live at the shelter will be expected to pay rent.
"We're treating it as a college dorm" said Herb Konowitz, vice chair of the Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing board of directors. "There will be an R.A. on each floor to watch over things."
The organization put the word out about their plans and soon began to receive volunteers and donations. The United Way of Delaware, which traditionally spends the summer solstice volunteering, will bring in contractors on Friday to lay sub floor, so that Interfaith Housing workers can lay tile.
Interfaith has also received grants from Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Kent County Levy Court, Bank of American and the Longfellow Foundation.
One of the biggest hurdles that had to be cleared to get the shelter up and running was gathering furnishings. A solution came when a member of the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Central Delaware team got into contact with Axia Management, the company that owns the Rodeway Inn in Dover, which is closing.
"Justin Strickland told them that we needed furnishings," said Konowitz. "Initially they agree to give us four rooms. We told them that we appreciated it but four was not enough, so they gave us 10 rooms."
While Konowitz was on site picking up the donated furniture he ran into the woman who was responsible for liquidating the rest of the furniture. He told her about Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing's mission. She told him to take whatever he needed.
"The furniture allows us to be in a move in ready situation once the building has been renovated," Konowitz said.
The organization now has all the furniture it needs. Everything from dressers, to lamps, to trash cans and pillows were salvaged from the hotel, Konowitz said.
"We were glad we could help out by donating furniture to such a worthy cause," said Tom Kramedas, president of Axia Management.
The rest of the furnishings for the new shelter are being taken care of. Steel bed frames are being constructed by a Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing resident who has a welding back ground and has volunteered his time. The mattresses for the beds were donated by Dover Air Force Base.
Page 2 of 2 - There are still some major projects to be completed in the new shelter, including installing flooring, outfitting the building with a commercial kitchen and installing a sprinkler system. Konowitz estimates that the facility will be up and running sometime in the fall.
"I'm excited about the new shelter because it allows us to cater to additional men in the central Delaware area," Konowitz said.