A hand up, not a handout
On a Wednesday morning, Cindy Burback pauses her busy day at Redemption House, as she attends to the needs of several women who have sought shelter.
Currently, Burback is the director of not only Redemption House Ministries—a women and children's shelter, but she oversees two other programs, including the men's shelter in Crook County and Craig's Compassionate Café.
Currently, the Redemption House is serving eight guests.
"Because of COVID, I have to be very careful about my numbers so we can follow all the protocols that are in place," she remarked of the capacity for the women's shelter.
Craig's Compassionate Café, a public soup kitchen, has been undergoing a remodel, which is projected to be completed by the end of March. The men's shelter has been full and currently is serving 15 guests on a nightly basis.
Redemption House is a 501c3, faith-based nonprofit, and is located within the building that is The Church of the Nazarene at 780 E. First St.
"We definitely are very strong in our faith here, and we do incorporate Jesus into our meetings and into our home as much as possible," Burback commented of Redemption House. "The girls know that they are always welcome to request prayer or sit and talk to us or meet with the pastor here at the church if they need to. Jesus is the key to life, and he is the key to helping us to make the changes that we need to make, especially when your life has been broken for any length of time."
She emphasized that they try to provide the women with the stability, love, empathy and compassion that is so hard to find in the world.
"Right now, there is a lot of uncertainty, a lot of fear, and so we are dealing with all of those issues."
She added that the issues associated with homelessness have been compounded by COVID, including more individuals who have lost their jobs and their homes. Burback noted that it is not just Crook County, but all the surrounding counties—which all have waiting lists as well.
The current women's shelter has space for a total of 12 women. The men's shelter has capacity for 16, and currently averages 15 men per night. In both shelters, once the guests are given an intake, they are guaranteed a 30-day stay. Once basic needs of shelter and food are provided, staff are available to assist them in accessing community resources and helping in their journey to stable housing.
The men's shelter opens at 6 p.m. each night. Beds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. If there is more need than availability, a lottery draw determines who can stay that night. Each guest is offered dinner and the option to shower and do a load of laundry – regardless of whether they are staying overnight. Light breakfast is provided in the morning, and the shelter closes for the day at 6 a.m.
At the end of the 30 days, a review is done by Burback and her case manager. They assess whether the guests have followed the rules and are continuing to move forward, and if so – they are guaranteed another 30 days.
"The reason I do that, is because I really feel like this is a ministry that we give them a hand up, not a handout," Burback emphasized. "It's really important to me that I provide all of these individuals with a safe, warm place and environment where they can start putting their life back together. Sometimes it takes a while, and if you're constantly struggling, wondering where you are going to sleep that night and if there is room for you, and that anxiety and that whole mental attitude can be the sole focus of your life and totally undermine your efforts to move forward."
The kitchen at Craig's Compassionate Café is currently undergoing some positive changes and is projected to be open by end of March. Upon reopening, it will be open three to five days per week—providing a lunch meal for the public. The café is staffed by volunteers.
"We are hoping to do some kind of grand reopening, but with COVID, I am not sure how that is going to look yet," Burback commented.
Redemption House Ministries reaches out to the community to those who have need for food.
"We share what we have," Burback said. "We do have a couple of homeless families who are couples who don't want to be split apart, so they don't come to the shelters to stay, but they come to take showers, do laundry, and we give them food. We not only serve those who are staying with us, but we reach out into the community and serve those who we can, too."
She went on to say, "Here in Crook County, I want this to be a program where we actually help the homeless in our community to not be homeless and to get that second start."
Burback emphasized that approximately 85% to 90% of the folks who come through the door appreciate that kind of program and want to help themselves, and that they have many success stories where they have helped people get stabilized and get their lives back on track.
"These are the kind of the things that as a program, I really feel like the Lord is being faithful to us, and he is helping us with some of the donors in getting the word out there that we are really trying to make this program work. We really need the help of the community," she concluded.
Redemption House Ministries
Director: Cindy Burback
Contact phone: 541-362-5642
Address: Church of the Nazarene, 780 E. First St.
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