FRESH Start began as HOPES Shelter in 2012 as a collaborative effort between LCCM and Jubilee Ministries to address a gap in services provided in Lebanon County to help families affected by homelessness. A few years into the collaboration, Jubilee wanted to go in a different direction to focus fully on their mission to serve those affected by incarceration, at which point the LCCM board of directors voted to take on full responsibility of the HOPES program. A capital campaign was initiated to complete structure modifications to the LCCM facility at the South Seventh Street location to provide a daytime resource center. With this transition, HOPES was rebranded to FRESH Start, and moved to the South Seventh Street location.
FRESH Start is the only family-based shelter in Lebanon County that can accommodate any type of family, whether it be a single parent and children, married couples with children, couples, and even some individuals. All proceeds from the Hurdles to Housing fundraiser will benefit the LCCM FRESH Start Emergency Shelter & Resource Center, which provides families and individuals the resources and training needed to empower personal sustainability while providing a safe place to sleep.
FRESH Start housed guests overnight in what is often referred to as a cold shelter model. Guests would sleep on a mat on the floor at a hosting church. Every two weeks, the location would change. This is a model of housing often used for winter sheltering or other emergency scenarios. We have had many dedicated churches over the last decade that provided many hours of critical service.
In March 2020, guests were housed in a hotel during the pandemic. This was a difficult time for many reasons. At LCCM, we struggled with case management and connections with our guests. What was thought to be a quick couple of weeks turned into a 22-month stay in the hotel setting. We experienced our highest average number of guests per night in the history of FRESH Start. During the pandemic, LCCM did not stop dreaming or planning. It was apparent a need to create a single site location for the shelter was important. The top priority was to establish a location that would provide consistency and stability for our guests, specifically children. In February of 2022, a partnership with the Chestnut Street Community Center was launched to host our guests overnight, providing a single location just a couple of blocks from LCCM.
Just three months prior, the LCCM board of directors approved a three-year strategic plan with one of the priorities to establish a single site shelter location. After completing due diligence and searching for potential sites, an agreement to engage in a long-term relationship with the Chestnut Street Community Center was ratified by the board.
In the middle of the pandemic, a generous anonymous donor provided LCCM with $200,000 restricted for use to establish a permanent site for FRESH Start. After discussions with the Chestnut Street Community Center, it was determined that LCCM would provide $200,000 in lease holder improvements to the 4,100 square foot second floor at the center. This is part of a much larger renovation project.
Several other partners have stepped up to support the mission of the Chestnut Street Community Center. There is abundant beauty in community! Through these partnerships, the work has begun with an elevator and now the renovations to the space FRESH Start will occupy. Here are a few highlights of the new space:
While we have been abundantly blessed with a location, the funding to do the lease holder agreements, and having many partnerships, including financial support from the Stabler Foundation, the operations of FRESH Start continue to be costly. We must continue to raise funds to support more than $300,000 in staffing. Staffing is critical to the programming of FRESH Start.
Without our staff, there is no program. This is where we need you! During the month of August, we will hold our annual fundraising campaign, Hurdles to Housing.
Our goal is to raise $20,000.
We can achieve this if we can simply get 40 individuals or groups to commit to raising $500 each. This can be achieved by creating your own Facebook fundraiser, by going to our Hurdles to Housing page, or simply mailing a donation to:
Lebanon County Christian Ministries
250 S 7th St.
Lebanon, PA 17042
Lebanon County Christian Ministries