By Sarrah Peters
In 1982, 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.
Now more than 30 years later, The Love Center has fallen on tough times, but the shelter is working hard to remain open. Joanne Hightower of United Way has lent her experience to The Love Center to help the organization reorganize.
“We are making moves to improve the Love Center,” said director Ruth Adcock. “ I am so appreciative of all who have come forward to offer their assistance. It has encouraged me.”
The Love Center was able to assist 144 clients in 2015. Thirty-five of those clients were children. That is 4,014 nights of shelter and 12,042 meals for its clients in the last year alone.
“Our shelter has been almost full each month with an average of 15 to 20 folks,” said Adcock.
The shelter is currently housing four single mothers and their children, single women and a couple.
Recently, the shelter is in the process of establishing a board of directors and creating a set of by-laws to qualify for more funding. All that is needed to finalize the by-laws is a few minor corrections in wording.
The two biggest problems The Love Center has is lack of public visibility and lack of funds. The lack of public visibility extends to the problem of homelessness in Etowah County. Many don’t realize it is a problem, although at any given time the number of homeless in Etowah County may exceed 200 people.
The shelter is also establishing an ambassador program to spread the word on its need to the public. The ambassador program would utilize members of the community to promote The Love Center’s cause with churches and the community.
The lack of funds is another problem facing the shelter. To operate efficiently, the shelter needs about $7000 a month, but currently receives less than $2500. Recently, the shelter was awarded $4000 from District 29 State Representative Becky Nordgren.
“This check we are to receive is coming at a critical time,” said Adcock. The money is planned to be used towards bills for the shelter.
At a recent board meeting, several fundraising ideas were discussed for the year. Ideas included an award banquet, raffles and a dessert auction, though nothing has been finalized yet.
The Love Center is also working to revitalize its accessibility online, as many of the younger generation now lean towards giving money online and following causes through social media bases. To become an ambassador or donate call The Love Center at 256-546-8831.