Local homeless shelter no longer accepting overnight stays

Published 8:10 am Friday, January 31, 2020


STAR Correspondent

River’s Edge Dream Center, a church that also serves as a homeless shelter for Carter County, will be temporarily no longer accepting overnight stays after Jan. 31.

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The decision to stop overnight stays, for the time being, comes from a lack of volunteers at the shelter, which opened two years ago next month, and newly arisen health issues with the shelter’s director, Darren Smith.

“We are restructuring. We still have a future plan, but as of Friday we are not accepting anymore overnight stays,” said Smith. “We would like to move it out of the church and into a different place.”

The change is estimated to be about six months, with a move in location and a goal to also hire a director over the shelter.

While the shelter is no longer accepting overnight stays, those in need will still be provided food every day from 6 to 7:30 p.m. except for Wednesdays and Sundays when the soup kitchen is closed. Laundry services and showers will also remain provided. Smith said anyone is welcome to come eat and that food boxes are also given out.

There are currently a few people staying at the shelter, however, Smith has found most places to stay with the aid of caseworkers.

The idea for the shelter began two years ago after Smith went on a trip to Florida and prayed with a pastor there. He recalled feeling God telling him to start this. After coming back, he mentioned the idea and two other church members had the same idea.

The church had their first stay with a homeless man who had been staying downtown in the cold. While they originally allowed him to stay in a donated 8×10 storage building outside the church with a bed, light and heater, they eventually moved him into the church basement that he ended up helping them remodel. It was at this time that Smith learned the man was a former contractor who had a family, but hit hard times and had given up.

“It caught my attention why people are that way,” he said. “Opening the shelter allowed me to get into people’s lives and find out why and try to help them get back on their feet.”

After using the basement, the church moved the shelter to the other wing of the church where it is now.

According to Smith, there have been about 170 people stay at the shelter over the last year and a half. According to Smith, 74 percent of these individuals got housing. Those faith based also found religion.

“We only lost about 25 percent of our goal,” he said. “The goal is always 100 percent. Some people don’t want help. Those who do want help we can help.”

In addition to providing a place to stay for the homeless, those who stayed at the shelter have also been aided in obtaining their license, getting trips to receive medical care and more.

The shelter has been funded by profits made from the church’s thrift store, REDC Thrift Store, located in Stoney Creek. Recently food provided from the soup kitchen has also been coming from Second Harvest Food Bank.

Those in need of resources can call Contact 211, however at this time it is referring people back to the shelter.

For more information on services provided by the church, you can call 423-542-4901 option 2, or email Smith at mobiledsmith@gmail.com.