Although COVID has slowed progress on the Mercy Rest Stop this last year, plans are still moving forward with $700,000 raised and $700,000 needed to begin construction. The board is still seeking donors.
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.
“Our need is as strong as ever here in the community,” Bill Turner, chair of the project, said on Monday. “We’re asking for support … Like everyone, we’re anxious to get this built.
“Hopefully so that we don’t have to go through another winter without it,” he continued. “Our dream originally was that we would have it done by this winter …”
Turner said although the pandemic has slowed them down, everything is ready to go as soon as the building is built.
“We have our professionals in mental health, with Burrell and Katy Trail,” he noted. “Job services and the director position, those things are in place and ready for when we open up.”
He added they received their building permit this past summer and all that’s needed now to begin construction is to raise the additional $700,000. Turner said the board is accelerating its efforts this month to raise the funds through local media outlets and on Facebook.
“Then one of the other things that has been really good is there's a number of individuals, churches and organizations who have committed to sustained giving, rather than a one-time gift,” he noted. “Of course, we appreciate the one-time gifts, but that’s been really good to have those sustained gifts.”
Sustained gifts allow the board to plan, he added. He also said a possible loan isn’t out of the question.
“We’re prepared, if need be, to take out a construction loan,” Turner said. “I wanted to refresh people’s memory that we do have the exterior shell (of the building) being donated by CSC Construction.
“So, we are really in good shape as far as the construction status and of course being able to operate,” he continued. “Our bottom-line goal is to not come into another winter without a good warming shelter and all the other amenities that come with this building.”
Turner said they will be talking with local lenders if they don’t reach their goal by next year. He added that considering the pandemic, they have had good results so far with donations.
“So, we are pleased with how the community has responded,” he noted.
He added in the last two months, due to COVID and supply pipeline delays, the board has had to rethink or find alternatives for the building materials being used.
“Because some now are very hard to get, and the prognosis is not good for getting them,” he explained. “So, we’re changing some of our building materials in the design moving forward.”
Tuner said they want the public to keep Mercy Rest Stop in mind and they don’t want people to think the “project is languishing.”
“That’s the hardest part for everybody working on the project, we really want it to be open right now,” Turner said. “Those of us that are hands-on on the project are persevering and we ask the community to join us because obviously, it’s a community project.”
For more information or to donate, visit mercyreststop.org. Donations can also be mailed or dropped off at Mercy Rest Stop Coalition, 417C W. Pettis St., Sedalia, Mo. 65301.
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