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Examiner
  • The Crossroads Shelter never closes

  • A family ended its stay Wednesday night at The Salvation Army’s Crossroads Shelter in Independence, but Cathy Asher knew the vacancy would be filled by Thursday.

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  • A family ended its stay Wednesday night at The Salvation Army’s Crossroads Shelter in Independence, but Cathy Asher knew the vacancy would be filled by Thursday.
    When potential clients call about the vacancy and learn that it has been filled, Salvation Army staff offer them the emergency overnight program and notify them of resource referrals to emergency and homeless shelter hot lines through its networking with area emergency shelters.
    “All of the shelters are full right now,” Asher says of the Kansas City region. “With the weather the way that it is, all of the shelters are full.” 
    Asher, director of Crossroads Shelter for six years, is in the midst of a high-demand time for shelter services because of severe weather, including actual temperatures in the 15 below zero to 30 below zero range. Located at 14704 E. Truman Road, the Crossroads Shelter is the only one of its kind in Eastern Jackson County. 
    The emergency shelter offers two programs. The residential program is available for clients to stay between 60 to 90 days “to get themselves together, to help with budgeting and to find a place to live,” Asher said. However, residents who’ve completed the program and left may not return for one full year.
    The second program, which is in high demand now because of dangerously cold weather, is the emergency overnight program. It usually allows people a place to rest their heads for one or two nights, but when temperatures fall below 19 degrees or rise above 100 degrees in summer, they can stay as long as needed, Asher said.
     “We’ve had an enormous amount of people coming and going and staying with us at night,” she said.
    Several years ago, a client who had stayed with the Crossroads Shelter as an emergency overnight later froze to death in a car, a move that Asher encourages homeless residents to avoid.
    Nineteen extra cots are available in Crossroads’ main building, but if those are maxed out, the Salvation Army will open its gymnasium next door at the Corps Center. 
    Because the Independence-area Salvation Army failed to meet its $250,000 red kettle goal this holiday season, finances are suffering, Asher says. Staff layoffs are looming as a possibility, she says.  
    When schools and many community centers are closed because of inclement weather, the shelter is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – no snow days.
    “To be honest: I’m crazy, no,” Asher says, laughing, on whether she’d rather be at home on a cold, snowy day. “This is what we do. Do we get tired? Yes. But do we want to stay home? No. I love this job. I love helping others – I just wish we could help more.”

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