What started as an evening spent serving food led to a transformation of sacred space at the Salvation Army’s Center of Hope in Jefferson City.
Members of St. Stanislaus parish in Wardsville painted and redecorated the room and donated new furnishings, furniture, toys and a wide-screen TV for residents.
“What’s amazing is how many people had their hand this project,” said LeAnn Korsmeyer, the parish’s director of religious education. “And we don’t want it to end here. We want to maintain this relationship.”
The 31-bed shelter offers transitional housing to people who are homeless in the Capital City.
Eight women and five children live in the women’s wing of the complex, which Mrs. Korsmeyer referred to as “a safe refuge from the storms of life.”
Two years ago, St. Stanislaus teens spearheaded a blanket and coat drive for Salvation Army residents as part of a service project.
“We wanted them to have a chance to do more than just drop them off there,” said Mrs. Korsmeyer. “So I asked if we could also serve a meal in the dining room and give the young people a chance to meet and visit with the residents.”
After serving the meal, the teens took a tour of the complex’s public spaces.
They noticed that the women’s and children’s community room had gotten a lot of use and not a lot of tender loving care.
“It just hurt my heart to see it,” said Mrs. Korsmeyer. “I kept thinking we should do something, but I didn’t know where to begin.”
A few months later, she led another group of young volunteers back to serve a meal, and the room hadn’t changed.
She contacted a group of women in the parish, and they went to take a closer look at the room.
After getting permission from Salvation Army leaders, each pledged to do something to make the room better.
“It was going to be a women’s ministry work,” said Mrs. Korsmeyer. “But I realized that it had to be a community project.”
They started out by selling hanging plant baskets to raise money.
Then, holy momentum kicked in.
“It started out with about 12 of us and ended up with 32, because someone knew someone who knew someone who might be able to help,” said Mrs. Korsmeyer.
Several local businesses offered materials free or at a reduced price.
A group of men came to remove worn-out furniture and other items.
Another group gave the room a thorough cleaning.
Several women bought paint and repainted the walls.
A parishioner and his grandson installed new ceiling tiles.
Two parishioners built a large bookcase and a cabinet to store the cots in the daytime.
Others installed a new area rug and window blinds and oversaw the frosting of the glass, affording the women more privacy.
The new lamps, couches and TV gave the room a neater, more contemporary feel.
“The director told us, ‘The moms don’t have a place to rock their babies,’ so we got a rocking chair,” said Mrs. Korsmeyer.
Volunteers also bought new toys and books and made vinyl chairs and a chalk table for the children.
“It’s amazing how many people stepped up to help,” said Mrs. Korsmeyer. “We’ve had so many people say, ‘Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Let me know if there’s anything else we need to do.’”
After all the work was finished, the project’s core team invited the women and children at the Salvation Army to join them for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
They brought summer gift baskets with personal-care products for the moms and items such as summer toys and pool and movie passes for the children.
Their goal was to spend time getting to know each other better so they could stay in touch.
“We want to have a few ladies go in every month and say, ‘What do you need?’ and try to keep it updated,” said Mrs. Korsmeyer.
Father Ignazio Medina, pastor of St. Stanislaus parish and of St. Margaret of Antioch parish in Osage Bend, said this project is holy work.
“They have my prayers and support for what they’re doing,” he said. “I give them my blessing to continue to live out the gospel and to do good for those in need.”
Mrs. Korsmeyer said she hopes the project helps increase overall awareness “that we as a people can do more.”
She noted that other parts of the building, including the men’s wing, still need attention.
“The needs are always there,” she stated. “If you see a need, fill it. Don’t wait for someone to ask you. Gather some people and get it done.
“It’s like, ‘You have this need, I have this gift. So how can I help you?’” she said.
Core team members for the project included: Jean Armstrong, Amy Duke, Laverne Eveler, Karla Holzer, Ann Kampeter, Linda Kleffner, Dawn Korsmeyer, Melissa Korsmeyer, Chris Lock, Suzette Mertens, Vicky Niekamp, Diane Riddle, Brenda Roling, Tina Werner and Mrs. Korsmeyer.
Additional assistance came from parishioners: Cole Bruemmer, John Doerhoff, Gerald Holzer, James Howard, Jay Howell, Donnie Kever, John Kleffner, Steve Korsmeyer, Chad Laune, Gary Riddle, Jack Renick, Fred Roling, Deacon Alan Sims, Ted Wilson, Brady’s Glass and JC Mattress Factory.