CINCINNATI — Maslow’s Army has a new center in Queensgate to help those experiencing homelessness – and due to the dangerously frigid temperatures on Christmas Day, they’re helping people come in out of the cold.
“We passed inspection yesterday and it was a just a miracle that we’ve gotten open on Christmas Day,” Maslow’s Army staff member Ryan McLendon said.
The shelter has been a goal for Maslow’s Army for years – and the first day they finally get to open one is Christmas day – a present for the whole community.
“I’ll tell you what, the city and the world needs more people like this,” said Margaret Petty Mulvaney, who visited the shelter.
It took months of preparation and years of planning for Maslow’s Army to officially welcome visitors to the Todd B. Portune Memorial Winter Day Center Friday.
“Since 2017 the original goal was to acquire this jail,” McLendon said. “To have this and be able to get the people out of the cold is amazing.”
People experiencing homelessness are now able to stop by the center and get help getting food stamps, health insurance and other resources.
“Basically, meet all their needs. My philosophy is if they want to get out of their situation, I will do everything in my power to see that happen. And if they’re comfortable living that lifestyle, I will do everything I can to make it more comfortable for them,” McLendon said.
Staff members are also on hand to help visitors search for jobs, prepare for interviews and get necessary paperwork together like resumes.
“We’re thankful for what you people are doing for us in the City of Cincinnati that shows that we do have generosity in our hearts and love for each other,” said shelter visitor Nathaniel Stanford. “We appreciate this.”
Staff member Kathy Dawson said, to her, the work is much more than a job.“There is a way out and there is a better life,” she said. “All of us staff members have been where they’re at today at some point.”
Advocates said the center is especially important this winter because the coronavirus pandemic has limited the availability of day shelters and more people are experiencing homelessness thanks to the many economic challenges they’re having to face.
“Nobody has ever been as gracious to me as the people that are here – and this is a gift,” Mulaney said.
The shelter served 64 people during its first day.
Maslow’s Army has a lease to operate at the old jail for 90 days with an option to add a fourth month.