ELKINS - Randolph County Ministerial Association officials have worked for more than 18 months to establish a new homeless shelter, but this week that idea went up in smoke - literally.
"We have been working with the owner of a property located at 121 Davis St. which we planned to renovate for another homeless shelter," Agape Works Treasurer Dave Moore said Tuesday. "Last night that property caught fire and has been deemed a total loss."
The property located at 121 Davis St., the former Runner Funeral Home, was completely destroyed by fire Monday evening. The wooden building, which also previously served as the former Elkins United Brethren Church, is listed on an 1897 map of Elkins.
Despite the loss, Agape Works still is working towards its goal.
"We had a vision, and now we will have to revisit that vision and make adjustments," Moore said. "We are looking at it as a blessing: a new and different opportunity for our plans. What is still standing of the building will have to come down and we will have two full lots for the homeless
Moore said an additional homeless shelter is needed in this area.
"The Randolph County Homeless Shelter is doing the best they can, but they don't have enough room for the great need," Moore said. "Unfortunately, there are some people who slip through the cracks."
Moore said the new homeless shelter would not be a long-term facility, but more for brief stays of one to two nights.
"The Randolph County Ministerial Association helps people by putting them up in local hotels when they have nowhere to stay," Moore said. "The number of those we help is significant. Lots of those folks are merely passing through our area and experience car trouble or a breakdown. They are not prepared for an emergency and do not have enough money to stay in a hotel for a night or two."
Moore said a group of people is currently living in a small tent on the edge of town.
"Other people are homeless and are bouncing from house to house, sleeping a night here and there," Moore said. "But they do not have a permanent place to call home."
Moore said the group will need financial support from the community, as it is starting from scratch.
"Because the building is a total loss, we will have to rebuild," Moore said. "Anyone who would like to donate to this worthy project should contact Rev. Jim Murphy at 304-636-0569."
The group would like to have separate sections for men, women and families in the proposed shelter. Moore said they envision a community center-style environment in which classes would be offered and meals provided for those staying at the shelter.
Officers of Agape Works include Murphy, president; Cindy Hammer, vice president; Moore, treasurer; and Teresa Wymer, secretary.