“Immanuel Shelter is open and operating, and helping men, women and families.”
Those words from board member Don Peterson echo a response to a dire need for shelter for homeless people in the Cape Region. Immanuel has shifted its emergency winter shelter services from a building on Oyster House Road in Rehoboth Beach to funding to pay for motel rooms for the homeless. When it was announced in early December that the area's Code Purple shelter in Rehoboth Beach would not open this winter, Immanuel Shelter board members and volunteers mobilized concerned residents to meet Dec. 14 to look at other options.
Those options included a push by Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes, and House Speaker Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, to get the former Delaware State Police Troop 7 along Route 1 near Lewes as a temporary winter shelter. An update meeting took place Jan. 4 where Peterson announced that Immanuel has secured funding from donations, grants, individuals and Lewes Rehoboth Association of Churches to provide housing in Route 1 corridor motels for up to 20 people per night.
Peterson said rooms average around $45 a night.
The Code Purple shelter, coordinated by Immanuel Shelter, had been in operation at Faith United Methodist Church fellowship hall on Oyster House Road for a decade. Code Purple, under the auspices of Love Inc. of Mid-Delmarva, operates winter nighttime shelters in Georgetown, Milford, Seaford, Laurel, Delmar, Bethany Beach and Bridgeville.
Individuals and volunteers from area homeowners associations, businesses, and churches have already started a meal-delivery program providing nightly dinners for those housed in motel rooms. Donations are accepted from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. each night.
Groups or individuals can sign up to deliver meals at signup.com/client/invitation2/secure/3023345/true#/invitation.
Other donations, including nonperishable items such as granola bars, and fresh fruit, and staples such as milk, bread, and sugar in packets and beverages, are also needed, Peterson said.
He said priority for motel rooms would be given to those who have been released from the hospital, who are ill and those who work in the area. He said the operation would follow the Code Purple model with an on-site supervisor coordinating program.
People will be vetted through an intake process and house rules will be in place, he said.
During the day, those who are not working are encouraged to go to the Community Resource Center for outreach services, including a place to shower and do laundry. The center, at 37510 Oyster House Road, Rehoboth Beach, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. The center also provides bus tickets. Donations to provide motel rooms for the homeless can be mailed to: Immanuel Shelter, PO Box 431, Nassau, DE 19969.
For more information about shelters, contact Immanuel at 888-634-9992 or Code Purple Sussex County at 302-519-0024.