BECAUSE WE ARE HERE.
Shelters of Saratoga Opens
Its Doors to the Community
In commemoration of 20 years of service, Shelters of Saratoga (SOS) is inviting the community to stop by for lunch and tour the only adult men’s and women’s emergency shelter throughout Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties. Star 101.3 and Twinkle the Bear will be broadcasting live from the SOS open house being held on Thursday, June 23, 2011 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the shelter’s 14 Walworth Street, Saratoga Springs location.
“We hope by opening our doors to the community they have a better understanding of the array of services we provide to prevent homelessness,” says John Penzer, executive director of SOS. “Unless someone is directly impacted by homelessness, they may not realize this problem exists in a beautiful place like the Saratoga area since this problem generally is identified with big cities.”
SOS makes extensive use of community volunteers and donations ranging from food to financial contributions. Monetary donations are the lifeblood of SOS’s operations. During their most recent audit, it was disclosed that administrative and overhead costs were only 8%. Conversely, 92 cents of every dollar donated go directly to provide services to the homeless.
In November 2010, SOS launched a highly successful brand identity campaign to raise community awareness of homelessness. The campaign “They’re not here. Because we are.” focuses on the main idea of imagining what Saratoga would be like without Shelters of Saratoga.
“I think the community would be shocked to know we have turned away over 200 individuals so far this year for emergency shelter services because we were at capacity,” says Penzer. SOS has plans to resolve this matter by increasing capacity up to 60% and looking at future service expansion. A proposed 8 bed women’s shelter will be
dedicated to providing specialized services for females. Occupants are expected to include veterans and victims of domestic violence.
In 2010, SOS provided service to over 500 individuals, including 14,000 meals and 6,226 bed nights. They expect to surpass those figures in 2011. Individuals are arriving at their door who had never even considered themselves being at risk of homelessness.
In light of the increased need for SOS services, which also includes mobile outreach to the chronically homeless and transitional living, they are inviting the community to join them for lunch, tour the shelter, meet the Board of Directors and staff, and leave knowing how as a community we are preventing homelessness. For Saratoga’s business community, this will be an excellent networking opportunity. Parents are encouraged to bring their children. Sorry, but due to insurance regulations dogs and other pets are not allowed, with the exception of certified service animals.
“The open house is a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase what we do and to let the community know how they can help us meet our ever increasing needs,” says Kelly Reinhart, President of SOS Board of Directors. He continues, “Our primary ethical responsibility is to meet the demands of the growing homeless population and work towards the ultimate goal of ending homelessness.”
For more information on SOS, visit http://www.sheltersofsaratoga.org.