Volunteers respond to "The Shelter" study

The Shelter
Posted at 6:00 PM, May 10, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-10 16:56:08-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—The Tallahassee-Leon Shelter received a study recommending some changes to improve the organization. More involvement from board members, more resources for residents, a limit on how long residents can stay and a new location are a few of many suggestions. The studies were released by the United Way of the Big Bend and the University of Central Florida’s Department of Sociology.

While the possibility of a new location has been debated for months in the Tallahassee community, volunteer Carrie Roane thinks it should stay right where it is.

“I’m opposed to any kind of location,” said Roane. “I think this is central enough, it’s close to the bus, to the greyhound depot, and it’s right in the middle of town.”

The Renaissance Community Center partners with The Shelter to provide a variety of services for the homeless. Director Mark Lazarus disagrees with Roane, saying, “the recommendations are right on target.” Lazarus said if The Shelter is moved, the two organizations could possibly merge together, and he hopes to see a location change soon.

“I think it’s going to have to happen,” said Lazarus. “The current facility is just not adequate.”

Another recommendation made in these studies is the possibility of limiting how long a resident can stay at The Shelter. Opinions on whether this is a good idea or not are mixed among volunteers and residents.

“This should be a stop gap and not a permanent decision,” said volunteer Nathaniel Muse.

“It should be maybe made on a case by case basis where some individuals are phased out because they’re staying too long and taking advantage and other individuals are allowed to stay based on their circumstances,” said Roane.

But volunteers agree that no matter what decisions will be made, they hope people will look at the good The Shelter has accomplished.

“In any type of organization there’s going to be people who are critical of it and there’s going to be problems,” said Roane. “I don’t think that any of that should overshadow all the good that the Shelter does and that the Renaissance Center does and all the good that the volunteers do.”

“Yes there are some problems,” said Muse, “but the overall aspect of the Shelter is favorable.”