Contact: Thomas Hottman
Kent Berry held out blueprints near the future site of the new $2.35 million Klamath Falls Gospel Mission on South Sixth Street Wednesday afternoon, pointing out where the new mission facility buildings are planned for construction. Don Boyd, co-chairman of a steering committee behind the project, and Alan Eberlein, a Klamath Works member, looked on as Berry, the mission's executive director, talked about plans for the mission facility, which includes a new kitchen and dining hall estimated for construction as early as March 2016. The public can learn more about the new facilities during an introductory program and "celebration of blessings" from 12:30 to 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 14. at 1930 S. Sixth St. The event is hosted by the mission, Sky Lakes Medical Center and Klamath Works. A faith-related group will provide music, and several speakers will share during a program on the property, preceded by a light lunch. The area where the mission will be located will also be marked off, so the public can see the facilities' future site.
About the project
The mission is only one component of a human services complex planned for an 18-acre parcel containing the former West One Auto building in the 1900 block of South Sixth Street. The property was purchased by Sky Lakes in 2014, and plans are under way to make the property a "one-stop" complex for rehabilitative, social services.
Organizers emphasize there are many moving parts to the project, and many active participants working behind the scenes, including local grassroots organization Klamath Works.
"The whole campus concept locating these partners in close proximity is a game-changer," Klamath Works member Heidi Neel Biggs told the Herald and News. "It will make it harder to fall through the cracks."
While the medical center owns the land, other agencies and the mission will operate as individual entities. The mission will be constructed in close proximity to railroad tracks at the site.
A sobering station, with details to be finalized by Sky Lakes Medical Center, is also scheduled to be built near the mission, according to preliminary concept drawings for the complex. Berry said individuals in need of sobriety and shelter will visit the station before receiving services from the mission, helping to fill a social services void.
"We don't have a sobering station here in the community," Berry said. "That has been a real critical need."
Neel Biggs believes the facilities could act as a "national model" for other cities on addressing poverty.
Part of the campus is slated to help those in need of job training get back into the workforce, an integral part of an individual's sense of purpose, Neel Biggs said.
"Work is fulfilling—it improves your self-esteem," Neel Biggs said.
Although plans are preliminary, part of what the campus is proposing is to include greenhouses that could act as workforce training for those receiving services at the mission.
"Part of this isn't just about poverty, it's about poverty of spirit," she said. "It's poverty of all of these things."
Klamath Works member Alan Eberlein said the group aims to streamline serves in the process to address poverty.
"Hopefully we can reduce the duplication of services and make this more efficient," Eberlein said.
H&N PHOTO BY STEVEN SILTON Kent Berry, left, Don Boyd, center, and Alan Eberlein discuss future plans for a human services campus at 1930 South Sixth St. on Wednesday afternoon. New Klamath Falls Gospel Mission facilities will be just one part of a multi-faceted social services campus on site.