BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Mayor Kip Holden joked about how cold it usually is when he mans a Salvation Army kettle and raises money during the Christmas season. He marveled at the warm sunshine on this wintry day for the Homeless Emergency Shelter ground-breaking.
Holden took the podium because the City of Baton Rouge is a sponsor in the new construction project. But there was more for the mayor to say, "We'll join the Salvation Army in this project about taking care of veterans who are homeless." Holden said in the weeks that follow he and the Salvation Army will roll out another project specifically aimed at the homeless veterans.
9News took an informal tour of the current homeless shelter, acinder blockk building built in the 1980'S. This building is able to house 20 men. The new homeless shelter will house twice that many. "They usually stay for how long?" Donna Britt asked.
Arnold McDuffie, a 24-year employee of the Baton Rouge Salvation Army, is the impromptutour guidee. He's also operations manager. When a person stays in the shelter, McDuffie says "It's usually one night, up to 14 nights, and then depending on certain needs whatever the situation might be we can extend it further."
The building is obviously very dingy with leaks abounding, evidenced by the water standing on the floor in places.
"You kept this place clean didn't you?" Britt asked. McDuffie nodded yes, "That was one of our main priorities. It may be old, but it still had to be clean."
Captain Brett Meredith says a coalition of donors answered this community need: "The Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation has provided about a million dollars and them personally, and we also have United Way which provided about $100,000 of funding, and then the City of Baton Rouge through a HUD grant in disaster services is providing about $500,000, and we still need about $500,000, pieced together, to make the project whole."
Donors are asked to write the check to the Salvation Army with homeless shelter written into the memo section of the check.