Morgan's Place, an emergency and transitional shelter for homeless people near Ellendale, is ready to open.
The words “Destiny Within Reach” on the front door greet those who enter.
Staff, partners, officials and invited guests joined June 7 to cut a ribbon and officially open the shelter.
Under the auspices of nonprofit Philadelphia Town Homes, it's one of several outreach programs offered near Philadelphia Pentecostal Holiness Church.
Program Director Leah Brown said the shelter will be a one-stop shop to help homeless people get back on their feet with the ultimate goal of finding each person a job and permanent housing. “We want to target what caused people to be homeless,” she said. “There is such a need here.”
The shelter is the only one to open recently in Sussex County. Two other proposed shelters, one in West Rehoboth and another near Lewes, were denied by county officials or by the court. The organization has a special-use exception to operate the shelter.
Planned are programs on budgeting, resume writing, nutrition and exercise, and a 6-week series of Division of Public Health health workshops on diabetes, cancer, pain management and chronic disease. Medicaid and food stamp registration will be offered on site.
Once persons are interviewed and accepted into the program, a case manager will assess their needs. They will live in free, transitional rooms for two months. Then they will move to a weekly rental room for eight weeks and then to a two-bedroom apartment and pay monthly rent for up to two years to help reestablish credit.
Brown said assistance will be provided at every level in the program with a goal of eventually moving to one of the new townhomes scheduled for construction.
She said those entering the shelter must be from Sussex County; no sex offenders will be permitted.
Brown said when the shelter is up and running, in full swing, she envisions as many as 25 people taking part in the program. Now, she said, they will start slow as they seek additional funding to initiate all planned programs.
Brown said the shelter, as well as all other outreach programs and facilities, can be tied to her father, the Rev. Major Foster, pastor of the church. She said her father, who is 85 years old, asked her nine months ago to help with the project during the time she was studying for her masters degree. “I told him I could give him a month,” she said.
That month turned into a career change. “I never really knew the magnitude of what my father did. All of this would not be possible without him. My goal is to put him on the map because he's not given the praise he deserves. His blood and sweat went into that building – and all other buildings on our campus,” she said.
It's a family affair because her mother, Betty, will run the shelter's kitchen.
Foster said he doesn't deserve any praise. “It's not me. God has directed me on everything. He directed me to come to Ellendale,” he said. That was more than four decades ago.
Brown said her father literally constructed the shelter with his own hands, as he has done with other buildings – and without any construction background or training.
“God gives me the vision how to build,” Foster said.
Philadelphia Town Homes offers affordable rentals, an in-patient substance abuse shelter and program and is in the planning stages of building 12 townhomes.
Brown said they hope to start construction on the first six homes within a year.
For more information, phone 503-7316. The shelter is located at 18527 Pentecostal St., Ellendale.
Who is Morgan?
Foster said he names buildings after the landowners they purchase property from who have passed away, in order to keep their names alive.