The Leavenworth Interfaith Community of Hope celebrated a birthday Tuesday afternoon – its own.
The agency celebrated the one-year anniversary of its new facility in northeast Leavenworth with a free lunch, cake and ice cream.
Sister Vickie Perkins, director of the Leavenworth Interfaith Community of Hope, led guests and volunteers in the singing of “Happy Birthday” to begin the celebration.
Nearly two years ago, approximately 40 churches, businesses, civic organizations and volunteers began devising a plan to construct a building that would house Welcome Central, a day shelter and a night shelter under one roof.
More than $700,000 in cash and in-kind support was raised in the community to make the dream come true.
“It’s because of the generosity of the community that we have this building,” Perkins said. “It’s so good that people in Leavenworth cared enough to make this happen.”
The 6,000-square foot facility which helps low-income and disadvantaged residents of the area was completed one year ago and began operations.
Welcome Central helps clients gain access to benefits and medical care. It also provides job training programs and transportation for people to get to appointments.
The day shelter provides a place for people to go during inclement weather – or just to talk. The night shelter offers safe accommodations for the homeless.
Perkins said 8,027 people used the beds at the shelter in 2018.
Welcome Central served 509 clients last year. Perkins said Welcome Central transported an average of 18 people per day in 2018, making more than 7,000 trips and traveling more than 32,000 miles in Leavenworth and Lansing.
She said the day shelter hosted an average of 50 people for breakfast each day and an average of 60 people for lunch.
“It’s been wonderful to be able to get people housing, jobs and things they need,” Perkins said.
Perkins said the generosity of the community continues.
“Every single day somebody comes in with food or clothes or coffee or soap,” she said. “This is an amazing town.”
Roy Smith, a guest at the facility, was celebrating a birthday Tuesday as well. He turned 56 years old.
“The shelter has been great,” Smith said. “Sister Vickie has been an angel. I love Sister Vickie.”
Smith also commended the Leavenworth Police Department. He said recently two police officers delivered free pizza to him and another man who were spending the night in a local park. He said the officers also opened a bathroom at the park so they could warm up.
“They didn’t have to do that,” Smith said. “They just did it out of the kindness of their own hearts. I praise the Leavenworth Police Department for doing that.”