BEND, OR -- The Bethlehem Inn, the largest homeless shelter in this region, broke ground yesterday on Phase One of their new construction, and thanked local supporters who have contributed more than $5 Million dollars to make the project a reality.
Gwenn Wysling, Executive Director of the Bethlehem Inn, says this was truly a momentous day and an amazing milestone for the Inn. "This is a building where thousands of lives will change from crisis and confusion to hope and promise. And this is something that is made possible through the collective efforts of our community to help transform lives through shelter, help, and hope."
The shelter has been working out of temporary trailers since the demo of the lobby and kitchen part of their old motor inn occurred last June, and will continue to do so during construction to ensure there is no interruption of services. The Bethlehem Inn has long been housed in the old motel on Third Street and needs replacement in order to better serve.
Special guest, Commissioner Tammy Baney, said that government is not the solution to the problem, it is community support that makes things better. "We all benefit from the love and support and the generosity of our community. We will not end homelessness overnight, but it is through each one of the dedicated steps forward, such as we're celebrating today, that we can make that change. And 'Transforming Lives' is the perfect name for this ... to be able to share that vision, and to be there for individuals and families who need us."
Phase One - the 18,600 square foot family residence and service hub - starts now, but Phase Two is in the design stage, and its goal is to increase the number of units to house single men and women.
Heather Tennant-Salveson, 'Transforming Lives' Capital Campaign Chair for the Inn, said the residents are what inspires her - their bravery in overcoming the crisis of homelessness is a beacon of hope to our community. "These old buildings can't last forever, in fact, they've lasted a lot longer than they were expected to, and the truth of the matter is that, if we do not replace these buildings, and soon, Bethlehem Inn, itself, will be homeless, and that's unacceptable, when the need is so great."
Construction of Phase One starts today and the entire project will hopefully be completed by 2020.