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Crawfish boil gift helps coalition combat homelessness

 

From left, Golden Triangle Regional Homeless Coalition board president Martha Kirkley and board members Shannon Shaw and Melissa Cooper discuss plans June 9 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church for a $1,887 donation from the Northside Charity Boil. The neighborhood crawfish boil was organized by Colin and Desiree Krieger of Columbus.

From left, Golden Triangle Regional Homeless Coalition board president Martha Kirkley and board members Shannon Shaw and Melissa Cooper discuss plans June 9 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church for a $1,887 donation from the Northside Charity Boil. The neighborhood crawfish boil was organized by Colin and Desiree Krieger of Columbus. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

 

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Colin Krieger

Colin Krieger

 

 

Jan Swoope

 

 

A recent donation to the Golden Triangle Regional Homeless Coalition will go straight to work locally, helping end the cycle of homelessness. GTRHC board members last week accepted a $1,887 contribution raised at the fourth annual Northside Charity Boil hosted by Colin and Desiree Krieger on Columbus' Eighth Street North Memorial Day weekend.  

 

"I sincerely hope that it brings some attention to what (the Coalition) needs," said Colin Krieger. "I really think they deserve to get that much every month from something." 

 

"People were very generous," said a grateful Martha Kirkley, GTRHC board president. "Their money is going directly to help people in their most desperate need in our own community."  

 

 

 

The mission 

 

Founded in 2014 by St. Paul's Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, both in Columbus, the Coalition helps qualified participants in the Golden Triangle find affordable housing, work toward necessary education and achieve an adequate occupation to support themselves and their families.  

 

"We want to end the intrinsic problem of homelessness, to find a lasting solution so they're out of that cycle when they leave us," said Kirkley.  

 

It's difficult for individuals or families to create a stable life without a stable environment, the Coalition contends. To that end, the ministry has been providing temporary housing in three apartments. It also assists with shorter term emergency shelter in motels through Helping Hands. 

 

Potential participants are referred through Nancy Guerry at Helping Hands and Glenda Buckhalter with Community Outreach Center. Those who qualify can be placed in an apartment for 120 days, rent and utilities free. Emphasis is placed on families with young ones. Children are often the most victimized in a homeless situation, Kirkley said. All accepted are required to work closely with volunteer case managers. A plan of action is formulated to help participants move forward in that four-month period.  

 

"Our immediate needs are paying rent and utilities every month," Kirkley said. "There are also expenses that our clients need, such as tuition for a GED program, or the fee for the manufacturing program at East Mississippi Community College, car repairs or testing to further themselves."  

 

 

 

Expansion plans 

 

Part of the Northside crawfish boil donation will go toward those monthly costs, but part will go into a savings account to eventually purchase property and build the Coalition's own apartments.  

 

"We'd like to start with five apartments, because it takes a lot of support and case management for our clients, and there are only so many of us," explained Kirkley. The group hopes to acquire a property and build for approximately $65,000, the board president said. 

 

Support from donors and events like the Northside crawfish boil is crucial to the mission, she continued. The Kriegers have hosted other neighborhood block parties that benefited good causes before: They are pleased this one grew into a music and food fest that generated the substantial gift.  

 

"The party just ended up getting bigger," said Krieger, crediting sponsors and numerous musicians who performed, as well as Scott Allen of A&M Audio and the efforts of SLAM (Supporting Local Artists and Musicians). 

 

"It all started because I wanted the Northside neighborhood to get together," Krieger said. "I came from New Orleans, and it's a big deal -- neighborhoods need to know each other."  

 

Every donated dollar is appreciated and used for its intended purpose, Kirkley said. "It's going to help these people get back on their feet." 

 

Learn more about the Coalition, or make a tax-deductible contribution online, at gtrhomelesscoalition.org. For more information, contact Kirkley at 662-574-0066.

 

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

 

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