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Humility of Mary Housing Inc. in Davenport is taking over the duties of running John Lewis Community Services’ emergency homeless shelter.

Sister Mary Ann Vogel said the Humility of Mary Housing Inc. board of directors will form a corporation, Humility of Mary Shelter Inc., and assume responsibility of the emergency shelter.

“We’re stepping into deep waters,” Vogel said, adding that for it all to work there will need to be “on-going support from the entire community.”

She said that between $250,000 and $300,000 will need to be donated by the community during the current fiscal year that ends June 30, 2009. Longer-term support will be required.

By taking over the operation of the shelter, slated to occur on Sept. 20, Vogel said a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant worth nearly $1 million that helps numerous Quad-City agencies will be saved.

The goal, she added, is to have a seamless transition so that the people utilizing the emergency shelter, at 1016 W. 5th St., will not lose any services.

Genesis Medical Center contributed $30,000 to help keep the shelter going in the short term. Ken Croken, vice president of corporate communications at Genesis, said the services offered to the homeless are too important to let go without a fight.

“As a community, we simply cannot allow these services to go unattended,” he said.

Humility of Mary Housing Inc. was created in 1990 by the Congregation of the Humility of Mary and is a transitional and permanent supportive housing program that provides shelter and housing opportunities for single-parent families experiencing homelessness. The program is designed to lead to self-sufficient living.

Mary Ellen Chamberlin, president of the Riverboat Development Authority, said her board will make a substantial contribution to the shelter over the next year, but added, “It will take the whole community to keep this open.”

She said the community “dropped the ball” by not contributing to John Lewis over the years.

“One, two or three agencies can’t do it all,” Chamberlin said.

Susan Skora, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend, said her organization will be a financial supporter of the shelter’s new operator.

“Humility of Mary has a good reputation in the community for being careful stewards of scarce resources,” Skora said. “We support their decision to expand their mission to include a homeless shelter.”

What other John Lewis services can be salvaged will be determined over time, Vogel said.

There are five or six John Lewis properties that are in a stage of foreclosure, said John Kiley, social action director for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport. The mortgage on those is held by Wells Fargo, which, Kiley added, “is being very cooperative” in working with the organization.

He added that Café on Vine, the former John Lewis Coffee Shop at 6th and Vine in Davenport, already has been taken over by the faith-based non-profit organization called Merton House and is serving about 150 meals a day seven days a week.

To donate

A “Fund for the Homeless” has been set up to assist the duties of running John Lewis Community Services’ emergency homeless shelter.

Anyone wishing to contribute can send their donations to the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend, 852 Middle Road, Suite 100, Bettendorf, Iowa, 52722.

For more information about the fund, call the foundation at (563) 326-2870. Also visit the foundation at cfgrb.org.

Job fair

A job fair for the Humility of Mary Inc. will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday at 1223 E. 12th Street, Davenport. Applicants should bring a resume.

Positions available include: property manager, quality control and assurance, office manager, shelter supervisor, maintenance, men’s shelter monitors, women’s shelter monitors, service coordinators, counselor. The jobs begin Sept. 20.

History:

It was announced in August that John Lewis Community Services would be shutting down all operations Sept. 21.

An ad-hoc group representing a number of community service agencies formed a task force to determine which John Lewis services are the most critical and which could be salvaged.

Two anonymous donors provided enough money to keep John Lewis going through Sept. 20 and allowed staff to get paid. The contributions allowed the organization to meet a matching requirement to get funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Thomas Geyer can be contacted at (563) 383-2328 or tgeyer@qctimes.com.

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