JEFFERSONVILLE — Re:Center Ministries has owned the white church at 229 Walnut St. street for two years, but nearby resident Nancy Garner had no idea that the homeless outreach group was in her neighborhood until recently.
“I mean, I just didn’t even know,” she said. “It’s right here. I can walk to it!”
To be fair, the ministry, formerly Louisville Rescue Mission, has been offering counseling and case management services at its Southern Indiana campus only since August. Tuesday was the first time that community members were invited en masse to take a peek at the center’s counseling rooms, offices and computer room, part of $100,000 in updates to the 134-year-old church.
Re:Center Ministries will be offering preventative and support services for homeless people at its Southern Indiana location, including job training. Since the ministry bought the building, staff have been reaching out to the surrounding community to make sure that they’re not only aware of what the campus is, but comfortable with the services that it will be offering.
The open house was a more public attempt to do the same, said Cory Bledsoe, the executive director of Re:Center Ministries.
The organization did receive concerned questions from residents living near the campus when it first reached out to the Franklin Neighborhood Association last year. Those haven’t completely faded away, but Hye Muncy, the president of the neighborhood association told the News and Tribune last week that she felt confident that lines of communication between her and Re:Center Minstries staff would stay open.
Many of the community members who attended Tuesday’s open house were more impressed with the new campus than worried. They filtered from room to room, listening to ministry staff explain the various available services and gawping at the cavernous insides of the church’s steeple.
Garner liked the campus’ counseling rooms and rows of computers, which will be open for clients to take career and parenting classes, which are free, just like all of the location’s services. She was happy to hear that some of the programs are prevention focused — for people at risk of becoming homeless.
“That’s where it has to be,” she said. “Because I mean, once they’re in, they’re in. It’s hard to get out.”
Betty Sellers and Christine Kidd attended the open house together, brought there by their volunteer work at Jeffersonville’s Oak Park Baptist Church visiting shut-ins.
“Some of them are widows or they’re alone and they have issues with their family or something and we want them to have another resource that we can point them to,” Sellers said.
“And this is it,” Kidd said. She wishes that more people understood the need for organizations like Re:Center Ministries.
“This is a diverse neighborhood and maybe the people don’t realize, you never know what’s inside these homes,” she said.
What’s inside are people in need of assistance, said Kidd.
“If someone reached out to them or if they knew there was a place, maybe they could get help,” she said.
In the coming weeks and months, Re:Center Ministries will be launching its classes and building relationships with other organizations in the community, including, perhaps, the jail.
The ministry will continue to reach out to the community, but to a different segment. Many of the people in need of Re:Center Ministries’ services are still unaware it exists, Bledsoe said.