Help on the way

Vineyard Transitional Center coming soon

Kile Brewer
Posted 5/23/18

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – It can happen to anyone.

Some Clay County residents have fallen on hard times, sometimes caused by a single event, maybe they lost a job, or a spouse, and have now found …

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Help on the way

Vineyard Transitional Center coming soon

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – It can happen to anyone.

Some Clay County residents have fallen on hard times, sometimes caused by a single event, maybe they lost a job, or a spouse, and have now found themselves feeling like they have nowhere to go.

There are many wonderful organizations to help the transitional population of our county, but none that act as a shelter. In a little more than a year, the Vineyard Transitional Center should have an answer to this problem.

“Our goal is to get the community involved, because this is going to be a community effort to solve homelessness and help anyone who needs help,” said Vineyard volunteer Josef Smith.

The Vineyard’s goal is to first provide programs to help people with whatever their struggles may be. They are offering services to everyone from the elderly, the homeless, inmates who have been released, really anyone going through any sort of transitional period in their life.

“This isn’t just a homeless shelter,” said the Rev. John Sanders who had the original idea for the center. “We’re here for everybody in need no matter what their situation may be.”

The effort to start the Vineyard began at a fundraiser in 2017 for Sanders to get something like this started. Amy Houston, now the President of the organization, had taught Sanders’ son and after talking with John decided she would jump on board and try to really get things moving.

“My passion for helping people has been my entire life,” Houston said. “I always said that if I won the lottery I would start something like this in Clay County.”

After this meeting, the organization really started to gain some ground. Since the meeting of Houston and Sanders the Vineyard began an aggressive course of fundraisers including car washes, auctions and percentage-of-proceeds events at local restaurants and businesses. Middleburg Martial Arts provided them with the free use of one of the office spaces in the business’ strip mall so that they could have a physical location.

Now that the organization is established and has an office space, they plan to start offering their life skills classes and transitional instruction later this month from that Middleburg location while they continue to raise money for the purchase of their permanent HQ. They have started to reach out to the homeless community through backpack outreaches where volunteers deliver backpacks full of food and hygiene supplies while letting people know that they will soon have a home. Henry’s Auto Sales in Green Cove Springs donated a van to the group which they will use to transport clients to and from jobs and to give them rides to appointments or things like that.

Recently, the Vineyard volunteers found a property on Pine Ave. in Green Cove Springs, and have entered into talks with Exit Realty to purchase the property. The building will run them about $86,000 and Houston said that goal should be met very soon.

“In July we’ll sign the papers, that’s why we’ve been ramping up fundraising these past few months,” she said. “I feel like we’re finally getting out in the community and people are starting to recognize us.”

The property sits near a church and will feature two buildings, one for offices, and another that Houston said would eventually house a full-service kitchen and three or four rooms for people who need a place to stay for the night. She envisions daily hot meals being served cafeteria style from the kitchen to the community of people in need they hope to reach.

Once they have the property, the real work will begin. Alongside their fundraisers for the buildings, they have been raising money for supplies and renovations that will need to be done before they move locations. Houston said she expects them to be operational at their permanent location within a year of their acquisition of the lot.

For more information on the Vineyard Transitional Center, contact Amy Houston at 904-651-8767 or the Rev. John Sanders at 904-305-4641. The group is working to develop a website at their domain, www.claycountyhomelessshelters.com, which should be up and running soon.

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