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Shelter expands for families in Ottawa

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT
(AP Photo/NewsTribune, Kevin Caufield)
Carol Alcorn (left), executive director of Public Action to Deliver Shelter, chats with Ottawa homeless shelter volunteer Lisa Collins at an open house for the expansion of one of two homeless shelters operated by PADS.

OTTAWA (AP) – Homelessness not only cripples individuals but entire families as well.

In response, Illinois Valley Public Action to Deliver Shelter has expanded its Ottawa facility to include three family bedrooms and a playroom to better accommodate the growing number of families using the shelter program.

“Our goal is to help keep family units together,” said PADS executive director Carol Alcorn. “Some don’t like to stay here because they get separated.”

Since Sept. 1, the shelter has provided shelter, meals, security, and case management to 15 families who had 19 children.

“This has been a growing need in our society and we are willing to try to meet the need,” Alcorn said. “There are many families with children who are moving around our communities staying where they can for short periods of time. We hope that they will consider the shelter as a place to go for help.”

When a family stays at the shelter, there are strict sleeping arrangement rules on separating men from women. However, the new addition allows for three entire rooms to be dedicated to families so they are not separated at night. Each room also includes a crib if the family has an infant.

“It’s already hard on people who find themselves homeless so we want to provide for them something that will better accommodate their specific needs,” Alcorn said. “This will promote the proper supervision, security, and well-being of the child and enhance the family moving to the solution as a unit.”

The new expansion also includes a playroom for young children and additional storage space.

On Jan. 22, volunteers were painting walls, filling the playroom with toys and doing other tasks to prepare for the extension’s official opening on Sunday.

“With the financial help from the community and volunteer assistance in the construction, we are now ready to open this space for use,” Alcorn said.

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