A couple of months ago, the future looked bleak for The Shepherd’s House, a local homeless shelter that was threatened with closure because of financial reasons.
But thanks to the United Fund of Surry and a bevy of fundraisers, the outlook is much brighter — to the point that an event is planned Saturday to celebrate the shelter’s new lease on life.
In response to its plight, the governing board of the United Fund had decided to match any donations from the community for The Shepherd’s House, up to $20,000. Various groups and individuals immediately responded with efforts that generated more than $50,000 — not including the match from the United Fund, which was presented Tuesday afternoon in the form of a giant check.
“It was like pouring gas on a fire,” the Rev. Phil Goble Jr., shelter director, said of the show of community support.
“Everybody started coming out of the woodwork.”
As a result of the influx of funds, a facility that was looking closure in the eye now is on firm financial ground for the foreseeable future.
“When we get the check from the United Fund today,” Goble said before its presentation, “we should be good through the end of the year. Now we are starting to focus on then forward.”
Since The Shepherd’s House opened in 2003, it has served 1,211 clients, including nearly 700 women and more than 400 children. That translates into 31,608 total nights of shelter along with 94,824 meals provided by the Mount Airy facility that serves Surry and four other counties.
United Fund officials who presented the check Tuesday said they were compelled to act after learning of the shelter’s plight. The Shepherd’s House is already one of the 26 member agencies regularly receiving assistance each year from the United Fund, which solicits contributions on the basis of money raised locally staying in the county to aid worthy service organizations.
“But when we heard that they were in trouble and reached out to us,” United Fund Executive Director Beth Pequeno said Tuesday of the additional need, “we didn’t want to see the shelter close.”
“We felt like matching donations would encourage others to step up and lend a hand, and it did,” said Walt Broom, president of the United Fund governing board.
“There hasn’t been any one thing that people have done, but a bunch of things,” Goble said of the different fundraising campaigns mounted by local citizens to help The Shepherd’s House.
“We had a lady who held a bake sale at the mall,” the shelter official said of one example. That effort led by Thelma Goins achieved $450.
Also included were an auction held by The Carolina Ramblers, a pancake breakfast by the Beulah Ruritan Club, a July 4 cruise-in by Cruise-In for Christ, a breakfast at Trinity Episcopal Church, a fundraiser involving an exercise group at ProHealth, a gospel concert by Kindred Spirits and even door-to-door collections by Thomas Inman and friends.
“We are just in awe with the response we have received from people all around the community,” commented Bob Meinecke, chairman of the board of directors of the Greater Mount Airy Ministry of Hospitality, which operates The Shepherd’s House.
“We have seen $5 donations, $500 donations, $1,000 donations and more,” Meinecke added.
“It just shows how much our community cares for those less fortunate than they are.”
The shelter and its board are now preparing for an event Saturday which will include the outdoor showing of a movie, live music and other activities. It is open to the public.
Local businessman Burke Robertson has donated the use of his White Sulphur Springs property for the occasion featuring the movie “The Great Outdoors,” billed as a 1980s classic starring Dan Aykroyd and John Candy.
“They’re going to have a big outdoor movie screen,” Goble said. Another donor, who is anonymous, has paid the royalties to allow the nationally syndicated film to be shown here.
The live music is planned from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., with the movie to start at 8:30.
Barbecue and popcorn will be available for what organizers say is a family-friendly event.
While there is no cover charge to attend, donations to The Shepherd’s House will be accepted. Participants are asked to bring blankets or lawn chairs.
“This is going to be a great night,” Goble continued. “It is our chance to celebrate with all those who have had a hand in helping us stay open.”
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.