By Sarrah Peters, News Editor
Thirty-five years ago, Charlsie Tarrance was inspired to provide shelter to “God’s most forgotten people.” Tarrance noticed the problem of homelessness in Etowah County and created The Love Center to provide clothing, food, furniture and shelter to those in need.
The Love Center provides homeless single women, couples and families with children with long-term housing and meals.
On November 2, the shelter will celebrate its 35th birthday with a dinner and auction fundraiser at 210 at the Tracks in Gadsden. The event starts at 6 p.m.
Our 35th anniversary is this year, so we wanted to commemorate that and also raise a little money,” said Andy Powell, a Love Center board member.
Local Joe’s will cater the event, while an Etowah Youth Orchestra ensemble provides music. C. King Benefits Auction is running the event’s auction.
“People have stuff,” said Powell. “So what we tried to do is come up with some experiences or some trips.”
Auction items include a one hour flight over Gadsden, a hunting trip in south Alabama, a weekend trip to a cabin in Mentone, a wine-tasting experience hosted by The Stone Market, a trip to a lakefront home in Virginia, a weekend at Noccalula Falls, a custom men’s suit from Joseph A. Banks, a sunset cruise down the Coosa River and themed baskets filled with items. Grab bag gift card chances will also be offered.
The Love Center will also debut a video highlighting the shelter’s past and impact on the community.
“I think it’s going to be real fun and enjoyable evening, and hopefully raise a little money,” said Powell.
Tickets for the event are $35 each, and are available through Monday, October 30.For more information or to buy tickets, call Nancy Smith at 256-393-5389 or Andy at 256-478-7611.
Powell said that the money raised will go towards The Love Center’s operating expenses, which are about $5000 a month.
Powell added that the shelter receives some money from grants, but is “largely dependent on donations,” which is provided from churches, businesses and individuals.
“The community has always been helpful to us, has always responded to our needs,” said Powell
The Love Center has gone through quite a few changes in the past year as part of a revitalization effort.
The center is applying for more grants and undergoing renovations, including a playground, a new heating unit and duct work and a new roof.
The shelter has also adopted new policies to benefit its residents. With the help of a volunteer social worker, the center is now helping residents find work and be able to support themselves outside of the shelter.
In the first eight months of 2017, 92 residents stayed at least one night, compared to 42 from the same time period in 2016, an increase of 118 percent. In fact, the shelter has already helped more people so far in 2017 than it did last year.
“We are helping more people because we are helping people move on to something successful,” said Powell. “What those statistics say is that we are helping more people, and we are trying to be more efficient, but that costs more money.”