• December 13, 2019

Salvation Army shelter hits a snag - Odessa American: Local News

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Salvation Army shelter hits a snag

Shortfall could be issue without donations

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  • Salvation Army Renovations

    Ceiling tiles are left out of place due to the fact that all work on the remodel has to be halted until the necessary changes to meet city code are made. This causes additional strain on the air conditioners having to cool the additional space, as well as additional strain on the budget for the electric bill.

Posted: Sunday, September 29, 2019 6:00 am

New flooring, walls, bathrooms and family rooms have been added to the Salvation Army of Odessa’s shelter through renovations funded by three years of fundraising.

But the future of the shelter has hit a snag after officials were told that an updated fire system to meet the requirements of the additional family units and a new ventilation system for the soup kitchen will cost another $86,000.

An annual Heroes Banquet, along with funding from the Permian Basin Area Foundation and a number of generous Odessans, allowed the much-needed renovations to occur.

Salvation Army of Odessa Lt. Juan Gomez said the nonprofit organization was putting the finishing touches on the renovations when an inspection by the fire marshal uncovered the need for an updated fire system to meet the requirements of the new occupancy levels. Part of the reason, he added, was because of the addition of family units at the shelter.

The family units are important to the shelter as whole families often need somewhere to sleep and it is problematic to split up families with young children.

Along with the new sprinkler system requirement is the need for another unanticipated expense - a new ventilation system in the soup kitchen.

Gomez said if funds are not raised to cover the cost, the shelter could become nonoperational, and operating costs may not be covered for the rest of the organization.

“You can image how that hit us in the stomach,” Gomez said. “It was not what we were expecting.”

With the winter months approaching and the Salvation Army providing meals to those in need on a daily basis, Gomez said current funds could be used, but it would cut into their operation costs. The organization is asking for donations from anyone willing to help.

“The last thing we would even want to do is be in a situation where we face the decision that San Angelo had to make: they had to close their shelter,” Gomez said. “That was because of lack of funding. We don’t have a lack of support in Ector County … the problem is we have an over cost (of updates).”

Money raised for the renovations has been through the annual Odessa Heroes Banquet, Gomez said. This year’s goal fell short, raising only $41,000 short of the $85,000 goal, and the increase in construction costs and materials has also cut into the funds, he added.

So far, additions already made to the shelter include updating the restrooms to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act; adding showers to the new family units; updating the plumbing to accommodate the renovations; painting and re-flooring the shelter; and making other repairs.

Leticia Martinez, an advisory board member with the Salvation Army, said the shelter is important to the community. The high cost of housing in the Permian Basin, she said, means people are unable to find affordable housing when they move to the area and use the shelter for temporary housing.

“The need for transitional housing … it’s needed in a good economy and in a bad economy,” Martinez said.

Ted Tuminowski, another member of the Salvation Army advisory board, said he appreciates that the Odessa Fire Marshal’s office has been working with the shelter so it can operate during the updates, but said the Salvation Army will need to make the updates soon.

Because of the increase in people who seek assistance from the shelter during the winter, Tuminowski said they are hoping to get everything completed as soon as they can. He said many people think only of the shelter, but said replacing the ventilation system is another huge concern.

“I would encourage anyone to go by anytime and look and tour at mealtime,” he said. “Go to the evening meal and see the people that are there eating … You’ll be shocked at the amount of kids who are there. It’s just amazing; it’s heartbreaking.”

Board members praised both the Permian Basin Area Foundation and generous Odessans, including Toby and Sondra Eoff, for their help during the three years of raising funds for the shelter.

Odessa, TX

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