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Mercy Rest Stop organizers dispel misinformation

Project not planned as homeless shelter

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Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct the address of Mercy Rest Stop.

Several misconceptions about the Mercy Rest Stop have neighborhoods near the proposed building site, 314 W. Benton St., thinking the facility will be a homeless shelter but organizers say this is not true.

As the Democrat has reported in past articles: “The facility, to be built on the property of the Open Door Kitchen, will provide the homeless and nearly homeless with the ‘necessities of life’ such as 24/7 sanitary restroom facilities, a 24/7 water source, showers, laundry, cooling and warming stations, and a place for resources and communication, plus a place to meet agency caseworkers to obtain assistance.”

Bill Turner, president of the Mercy Rest Stop Coalition Board of Directors, spoke with the Democrat on Thursday about the misconceptions.

“It is with great disappointment the Mercy Rest Stop Coalition Board of Directors has discovered that a great deal of false information about the intended purpose of this service has been spread throughout the community,” he said.

“This has caused residents near the project site undue stress and anxiety,” he continued. “We have taken immediate steps to bring them the truth …”

Turner has worked with Sedalia Second Ward Councilwoman Tina Boggess to clarify the purpose of the facility by creating a fact sheet. He added the board wishes to thank Boggess for helping them to understand the present situation.

The fact sheet states: “There’s a great deal of misinformation about the Mercy Rest Stop and its purpose spreading through the community. The intent for the rest stop has always been to make valuable services available to everyone in the community. The following facts have been true from the start and will remain in place.”

The facility will not and was never intended to be a homeless shelter. Information on the fact sheet states:

• It is not a place where people will be allowed to sleep overnight inside the building except in two types of situations: 1. In extreme weather conditions, such as being too cold to be outside. When conditions improve, they will leave the facility. During such time, there will be onsite supervision. 2. When a family is in crisis, such as when their house burns down, they will be housed long enough to give them time to make other arrangements.

• The only 24/7 service provided is access to water and restrooms from the outside of the building.

• Security cameras will be in operation both inside and outside 24/7.

• No illegal activities will be allowed in or around the property.

• Overnight camping will not be allowed on the property.

• Use of the parking lot for overnight stays will not be allowed.

• Patrons will receive free services such as job training, job placement, mental health counseling, medical referrals, spiritual counseling, laundry facility, showers, etc.

• The intent is to provide a hand up to those in need, not to give handouts.

Turner added the project is widely supported by businesses, civic groups, churches, families and school children. 

“The Mercy Rest Stop Coalition Board of Directors will not be deterred from making this project become a reality, nor will we betray our commitment to those in need of these services or the fine people of this community who have trusted us with their donations and support,” Turner noted. 

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