A recent city commission meeting decision prompted action by a group of residents to help the community’s homeless population during the winter months.
Following the Fort Scott City Commission passing an ordinance to allow basic tents in designated camping areas for homeless people, the group of concerned citizens began conversations about helping the homeless in the wintertime.
The core group of Warming Hearts in Fort Scott, the name proposed for the group, is Tonya Cliffman, Anne Dare, and Sarah Maike.
“Our goal is to assist in winter with temporary shelter, clothing, basic essentials, and nutrition,” Tonya Cliffman, one of the organizers of the project, said. “We want to build relationships to provide basic needs in hopes we can move them into more traditional housing in the future.”.
To that end, work has begun on two sleeping pods which are four-foot by five-foot by eight-foot wooden structures. These are being constructed by a small group of men who are donating their skills for the project, she said.
“(Those sleeping in the pods) can sit up, but not stand up, that way their body heat will keep them warm,” she said. “It has no heat or water, just a wooden insulated structure.”
“They are $1,000 each,” she said. “We are building the first one now.”
They will complete two pods by the first of the year and as soon as they have an individual to utilize the pod, that person will use it for the whole winter, she said.
The group reached out to the owner of a vacant lot, a former mobile home park, Patrick Wood, who permitted use of the lot for the project pending approval by the City of Fort Scott. That approval came at the Dec. 7 commission meetings.
The area is located at 19th and Horton Streets, just north of Community Christian Church (CCC).
CCC already has programs in place to provide showers and basic hygiene needs, plus food and some clothing, she said.
“CCC is my home church,” Cliffman said. “This is not a CCC project but they are supporting us.”
The group set up a fund at CCC for receiving the donations to the project, she said. “This is for transparency, accountability, and stewardship. We felt that is a great partnership.”
Once the pods are in place, the individuals who will be using the sleeping pods will have portable latrines and trash service provided, she said, and be told of the regulations to sleep in the pods.
This initial part of the project will provide the sleeping pods until March 31, Cliffman said.
Cliffman was able to visit with 15 out of the 18 residents that are on the block where permission was given for the sleeping pods, she said.
“I know the Lord’s hand is on this,” Cliffman said. “Doors are opening: we’ve been blessed with a location and some donations to get started. I’m following the gifts the good Lord gave me to do this.”
Facebook page to follow along on progress: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1758963627644201
A link to donate to the cause: https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fsquare.link%2Fu%2FvlWqsupK%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR0MJZ72StGpxT2LUFEBHazoIC-yFIsUeNLx_aGckz1307kcXabEmFTmyxw&h=AT3rALx3zY7_yxqjlM-EsM2Ev8UEbz2qsgSRXrAIxZv57vdTPe9gwKxIzFcm11BOXEeXj7aESOwn_A3VYXsYdsoVGKd3XAskyGHRrLIVAeXhjWUgREYtJlWBMlHVqm5K_gCk&__tn__=-UK-R&c=AT0eZ_iOSWcNYAEGcJuoJuQ8KZz2CFqTEig36EFyTBI025cbPswq7KfMGW3AcYQXYsYXmJ-SzeajqZPxwBbF_P-XEiO6YD4W56OMFPllDu3Eq62zcD3fdup2rhA42XOZmHSTz5oAehpwZlDsTuzX-k1ftjVyi-8rj4Af2l8At9iKwPGznq2xzV2-4h_1StsBC7-9EJsZyhXp_MZvxuI