ASHLAND Lackluster fundraising has left Salvation Army officials pondering the future of the organization’s Ashland operations, but so far there are no plans to close the emergency shelter in the 2200 block of Carter Avenue.
However, rumors of impending closure have reached, among others, officials of a church that is trying to assist clients of the shelter and an official of an agency in The Neighborhood that provides emergency help.
The church official, who asked that he and the church not be identified in the newspaper because its ability to help is severely limited, said the church had agreed to house 17 people for one night because they were no longer permitted to stay at the shelter.
The reason the people were being turned away from the shelter was not related to any potential closure plans but to their having stayed the maximum number of nights, he said.
Amber Samons, director of Hope Central in The Neighborhood, said her sense of the shelter’s future is that it will close, although she does not have any official knowledge.
The emergency shelter’s administrator, Renee Parsons, is listed on Hope Central’s website as founder of the agency. Parsons has not returned numerous calls from The Daily Independent.
A Salvation Army official said earlier this week the shelter would not close.
“There are no plans on the table for that to change, but our fourth-quarter fundraising ran short of our expectations and goals, so we are going to have to re-evaluate. We need to make sure our needs are met,” said divisional director of communications Chris McGown.
Keeping the shelter open is in the plan, and so are possible changes in its employee roster, he said.
“We’ve got some great seasonal staff,” he said. “We’re not sure what our overall leadership will be. We’re looking to our community and advisory board and we’re not sure what will happen.”
McGown declined to comment on specific employee decisions.
The organization wants to continue operations in Ashland, he said. “We are looking at how to keep a foothold in Ashland and meeting needs there, and what steps we need to take to make that a reality.”
One step will be studying different fundraising strategies, he said.
Any changes will be incremental, he said.
The Ashland Salvation Army has been struggling financially since at least this time last year, when officials announced downsizing operations in the wake of a $200,000 deficit.
"In my opinion, the Ashland Command, as it stands, is not financially viable," division finance secretary Capt. Carl J. Melton wrote in a letter to other Salvation Army officials.
The letter outlined a deficit trend that had been increasing since at least 2018.
It closed its thrift store, which was losing money, in late April.
It reassigned two top officers to other posts and closed its worship center, discontinuing services there in June.
In their place the organization hired an administrator, Parsons, also in June.
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