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Fayetteville nonprofit wants to build shelter, but church has concerns

Posted July 16, 2015

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— Army veteran William Harding lives with about two dozen people in a makeshift tent city not far from Operation Inasmuch, a faith-based nonprofit that helps homeless men like him.

“It’s not really hard living out here in a tent, but it can be demeaning,” he said. “It can be humiliating.”

Operation Inasmuch wants to give the homeless their dignity back. The organization, which feeds hundreds of homeless people every week, wants to build a shelter at the corner of Hillsboro and Chance streets that will be large enough to house 40 men.

“It’s hunger for dignity that comes with having a job, having a home,” Executive Director Sue Parker Byrd said. “We’ve met the hunger need of a physical hunger, but we have to now rein it in and say, ‘Where can we make the biggest impact?’”

Across the street, St. Luke AME Church prepares meals to help the less fortunate. In fact, the church gave Operation Inasmuch its building.

But church leaders say Inasmuch already owns five homes for the homeless nearby. They feel the neighborhood is becoming a homeless village.

"When the people leave Operation Inasmuch, they’re over here, knocking on the door asking for handouts,” said Shirley Thompson with the church. “As a matter of fact, I had two this morning. It’s constant, and we just don’t think it’s feasible to have another shelter in this area.”

The church is planning to establish a day care and a senior center, so members are concerned about the growing homeless population. Fatyetteville City Council members will ultimately decide whether the homeless shelter is built.

Lisbeth Marin, a trainer and grant writer at Operation Inasmuch, says a shelter will make a difference for the homeless men.

"They can sleep the night, have a shower, come here for breakfast, go to a Microsoft class, learn how to fill out a job application and then go back to sleep at night,” she said.

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  • Sally Bethune Jul 17, 2015
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    I am so weary of the TAKERS argument! The largest number of homeless men are vets. I am 100% sure they have given you more than they have ever taken. The Congress is quick to go to war, slow to accept compromise, sends these young men and women in to harms way and then will not adequately fund the VA. Even the Pope goes around saying greed is the scourge of the world. I have been to extremely poor countries and ALWAYS in the capitals of these countries their are gold and jewel laden monuments to the Catholic church and don't get me started about the Vatican v. greed. We all need to forget and drop the giver/taker BS and be generous and kind. Karma will take care of the "Takers". That's not our call!

  • Larry Price Jul 17, 2015
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    I looked at a map of the area and there's a very nice looking Baptist church that is a short walk from the AME church. Hopefully they'll step up and help out!

  • Larry Price Jul 17, 2015
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    It would be a nice gesture from other churches in the area to offer to help this church take care of these homeless.

  • Amy Johnson Jul 17, 2015
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    Unfortunately, not everyone asking for help is truly "needy." There are many that are just looking for a hand out, not a hand up. I have personally had to deal with people who are known to the community for going from church to church and charity to charity for a hand out. This type of person is taking FROM the people who actually need assistance, often just because they are getting "free" stuff. The lady appears to have been referring to that type of person, not someone who is willing to work to provide better for themselves and/or their families. There are a great many needy people and limited resources to assist those in need. Charities and churches have to recognize the difference and assist accordingly.

  • Fourtyseven Cole Jul 17, 2015
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    Wait...did i just read a lady complaining about the less fortunate turning to a church for help?

    Something seems off there...

  • Paul Stroud Jul 17, 2015
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    "When the people leave Operation Inasmuch, they’re over here, knocking on the door asking for handouts,” said Shirley Thompson with the church. “As a matter of fact, I had two this morning. It’s constant, and we just don’t think it’s feasible to have another shelter in this area.”

    Oh MY GOSH, someone came to a church asking for handouts. The HORROR. If people are still asking for handouts, doesn't that imply that another shelter is necessary? Me thinks the church is more worried about their property values than they are about the community. BIIIIIG Surprise there huh.