A Chicago, non-profit, faith-based community organization will fulfill one of its missions with a soon-to-be built shelter on the West Side for homeless men.
Breakthrough Urban Ministries, in collaboration with HomeAid Chicago and other partners, hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday to celebrate the construction of a 30-bed transitional home for temporarily homeless men.
Taking place at 402 N. St. Louis, the afternoon groundbreaking coincided with an afternoon block party in the East Garfield neighborhood.
Among the group partners are Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago. Invited guest Saturday included Ald. Walter Burnett, Jr., (27th) and state Rep. Annazette Collins (10th).
More than 500 people showed up for Saturday’s festivities, organizers estimated, surpassing even their own expectations.
“Many people in the community had never experienced a block party before, so they really enjoyed it,” said Nancy Hall, director of Development for the Breakthrough Urban Ministries.
Event festivities included the Jess White Tumblers, arts and crafts for children, and performances by hip-hop gospel group Berto Ramone, and the Lawndale Hope House Choir.
The new shelter and center in Garfield Park will replace the current men’s shelter at 5249 N. Ashland Ave., in Edgewater.
The original center opened in 1992, providing an outreach program for individuals in need. But as the Edgewater community slowly improved economically, due in part to the gentrification, the need for the shelter on the North Side began to lessen, said Hall.
Eventually, it seemed as though the move to Garfield Park was the most ideal option, she said.
The new center is scheduled to open in the spring of 2007, just two blocks from the current Woman’s Breakthrough Joshua Center, 3330 W. Carroll Ave., which began in 2000.
The relocation of the men’s shelter, Hall said, will make for easier access to both facilities for the staff.
Along with providing transitional shelter for homeless men, the Breakthrough Ministry Center will offer the Breakthrough Employment Services and Training (BEST) program, said Erin Ward, associate account executive with Taylor Johnson Associates, a real estate marketing firm.
“The center will be providing life skills to those in need,” she said.
The East Garfield center will include the Cleanstreet Employment Program, a six-week employment preparation program, and job placement services. The center will be available 365 days a year and will offer daily food service.
According to Hall, the transitional house was welcomed by most who spoke out at the town hall meetings leading up to Saturday’s ceremony, except for one main concern.
“We were asked not to open it to convicted sex offenders,” said Hall. “That is understandable. After everyone was on the same page, the planning and attracting of sponsors of the shelter came fairly easily.”
Breakthrough Urban Ministries will look to raise $5 million for the construction and operating expenses. Breakthrough Ministries has so far raised $3.5 million.
For more information, visit http://new.breakthroughministries.com, or call 773/722-1144.