For the past five years, the Daniel R. Trickey Memorial Life Giving Center has been quietly offering single homeless women, many with children, a place where they can turn their lives around.
Some of the people behind this community-wide ministry met for lunch at the convent on Wednesday as Director Michell Conner explained what the Life Giving Center has meant to Great Bend, and how others can get involved.
The center has helped 30-40 families a year, a total of 160 in its first five years, Conner said. “We are impacting our community one family at a time ... touching them with the love of Jesus.”
The center is one of the ministries of Lasting Life Ministries Inc., led by Mark Ball. He purchased the former Roosevelt Middle School at the corner of Broadway and Stone, where the center is located. The same building houses the Hungry Heart Soup Kitchen, which started nine years before the center, as well as Extreme Hope Church. Others who were instrumental in starting these ministries include the late Rev. Trickey, and Mike Joiner, pastor of Extreme Hope.
Sister Jolene Greir from the Dominican Sisters of Peace said Joiner sent a letter in 2005, inviting churches to move on the project of renovating part of the building for a temporary housing facility, after people were seen living under a bridge at the edge of town.
“We still need many volunteers,” Sister Jolene said Wednesday. Private donations pay the salaries, utilities and upkeep of the building, and are tax-deductible. Volunteers are needed to stay at the shelter on weekends and nights, but there are many other ways people can help.
Larned native Mitch Webster, a former Major League Baseball player and now the Royals’ Midwest Regional Scouting Supervisor, has supported the effort from the beginning and was back in Great Bend for Wednesday’s luncheon. He said the Life Giving Center has been far more than a homeless shelter, which is why it is called “transitional housing.”
“It’s a great opportunity for someone who’s looking to help women in need, and families,” he said. Webster has seen the ministry help women get back on their feet, find jobs and, in some cases, get their children back.
The families who stay at the center are expected to help with the work and to work on helping themselves, Conner said. They receive spiritual mentoring as they learn to change the behaviors that led to their homelessness. “They have to agree to a plan,” she said. They set goals that may include attending Alcoholic Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings, earning a General Education Development diploma or finding a job.
Other members of the board of directors commented on what the ministry has accomplished.
“It’s really opened our eyes to different needs in the community,” said Kevin Wondra, from First Church of the Nazarene.
“We focus on the spiritual aspects of their life,” said Marian DeWerff from First Baptist Church in Ellinwood. “Their life changes.”
“This facility is a gift to the community,” Conner said, reiterating the need for community involvement. Another place people can help is with the distribution of clothing and household items. The second floor of the former school is filled with things the women may need when they move to their own homes. Everything from mattresses and chairs to dishes and toiletries comes to the center. Just sorting clothing donations takes many hours.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays the clothing distribution area is open to the public from 9-11 a.m., and help is needed at those times.
Items can be dropped off from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, on the west side of the building, off Stone Street. That is also where people should go to receive clothing.
For more information call 620-603-6283 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org