PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - Because the Homeless Ministries of Jonesboro is back at square one with finding a place for a homeless shelter in Jonesboro, the Mission Outreach of Paragould is speaking out.
The non-profit organization has been helping the Homeless Ministries since day one on the efforts of placing a homeless shelter in Craighead County, but after their original plans were rejected by community members, the new location of a shelter is up in the air.
"It was so disheartening for us when we found out there would not be a shelter," said Cheri Peters, executive director of Mission Outreach. "They really need that because the homeless population is getting greater and greater."
Peters said because of this issue, they are seeing a rise in Craighead County residents in their shelter.
"The HUB is great and we are always here to help them," said Peters. "We get a call from them on a weekly basis of someone needing a bed. Since 2014, we have seen a rise in Craighead County residents who are homeless. From 5% to now in 2017 20%. We currently have about six residents from Jonesboro in our shelter."
Peters said they do not mind helping when they can, but it can be stressful financially.
"I feel like if Craighead County doesn't want a shelter over there, and I know some folks do and some don't. Everybody doesn't not want it, but you need to send your donations to Mission Outreach in Greene County because we don't get any financial support from Craighead County but we are servicing your community over here," said Peters.
Peters said, more importantly, she wants the community to put the fear of having a homeless shelter in their neighborhoods to rest.
"The Mission has been here going on 35 years now, and it gives people a place so they are not running or living on the streets which is inhumane as we know it," said Peters. "I just want to encourage anyone to know how safe it is here. We have never had any complaint from our neighbors of any kind of crime like break-ins or vandalism. They need to let that stereotype go."
In the meantime, Peters said she is still here to help the HUB and the Homeless Ministries reach their goal.
"I would tell them to not give up," said Peters. "We are here to do whatever we need in Jonesboro to get this shelter up and running."
Peters said if you want to donate to Mission Outreach, you can do so.
"I just want everyone to know, these homeless individuals are not all drug addicts, or alcoholics, or deadbeats in society," said Peters. "They are people just like you and me and at one time was in the same shoes as us. We could be a paycheck from being where they are at now so don't judge anyone. We don't know everyone's situation."
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