Altoona Rescue Mission $7,000 from reopening

Altoona Rescue Mission’s absence was felt even during a mostly mild central Pennsylvania winter.

Now, less than a month after a joint effort between the Rescue Mission and Reliance Bank began, the shelter is $18,000 closer to reopening.

Reliance Bank Vice President Chris Kirwin said as of Friday, the mission is only $7,000 short of a $25,000 fundraising goal. Reliance has vowed to match donations up to a total of $25,000, providing the mission with a $50,000 influx of cash.

The donation drive, which began in early February, has no cutoff date, and people can continue to give until the goal is reached, he said.

Mission Board President Edwin Chappell said Kirwin is handling the account while volunteers prepare the shelter.

Using proceeds from its thrift store, direct donations and volunteer labor, the shelter is being cleaned and painted, he said.

Volunteer Business Manager Clair Chappell said other future renovations could include remodeling the shelter to add a dining room in the basement or expand the director’s living quarters.

Edwin Chappell said he’s waiting on the rest of the money to come in while board members continue to look for a director. Then and only then will the shelter be ready.

“We can’t open until someone’s there to monitor it and run it,” he said.

While Clair Chappell originally hoped to open the shelter within a month, Edwin Chappell said it’ll be a little longer until everything is in order.

“As soon as we can, we’d like to reopen,” he said.

The men-only shelter, located at 815 Lexington Ave., had helped 100 to 200 men each year before it closed in October because of inadequate finances and the retirement of mission superintendent Richard McLaughlin.

About $5,000 is needed to run the shelter for one month, with the mission’s accompanying thrift store at 2809 Seventh Ave. able to supply roughly $2,000 of that from sales.

According to board Treasurer Kent Fluke, McLaughlin’s house recently sold for $28,500, and the money was used to pay off a $9,400 line of credit debt.

The remaining money will be put toward paying off the shelter’s $24,500 mortgage once the fundraising goal is met, he said.

Fluke pointed to a Feb. 10 Mirror article as the fundraiser’s kickoff date, meaning the shelter has been receiving close to $1,000 a day in donations.

In the area, only the Rescue Mission and the Family Services Inc. emergency shelters are open to men who don’t fit certain criteria. Family Services Inc. has teenager and domestic-violence shelters, and the Salvation Army’s drug and rehabilitation program provides housing for its clients.