Contact: Thomas Hottman
Nine-year-old Vanessa Brown hammered a stake into the ground Sunday afternoon at the future site of the Klamath Falls Gospel Mission's women's facility on South Sixth Street.
The stake read, "God Bless All Women," in black marker, representative of the women who will one day enter the facility at the site.
"We should be thankful for everything we have," Brown said, adding that the new shelter for men and for men would help those in need.
Brown was one of about 300 people who got an up-close look at the future of mission facilities at the "Celebration of Blessings" Sunday on South Sixth Street. Many attendees, like Brown, shared a message or a prayer at the site.
"It's a personal investment in this project," Capital campaign committee member Candi Sonerholm said of the stakes and well wishes, which dotted the outlines of the new facilities.
The event debuted to the community the plans for the mission's new $2.35 million men's and women's emergency shelters and dining hall and kitchen. The mission has raised $1 million, and needs $1.35 million to begin construction.
The facilities are one component of an 18-acre human services campus slated to help individuals navigate homelessness and other hardships. Sky Lakes bought the property in 2014 and has collaborated with grass-roots organization, "Klamath Works," and the mission on creating the campus.
For organizers, the event was a day to offer thanksgiving for the blessings of a new home for the mission, to express gratitude for those involved in the project, and to share of the immediate need for multiple services.
"The navigation of life in this world is not always easy, and at times, for some people, the pressures and problems encountered are overwhelming," Free Evangelical Church pastor emeritus Robin Maxson said, during the program.
"There's not a one of us today who has not needed the help of others to overcome some obstacle, to get past some hurdle we could not have managed on our own," Maxson added. "We who take up the challenge of helping others begin with thanksgiving.
"We seek only to pass along what we ourselves have received," he added.
The event brought together representatives from the mission, Klamath Works members, and Sky Lakes Medical Center.
DEPENDENCY TO DIGNITY
Klamath Works member Brian Irwin was one of several who shared about the importance of the campus: "To provide the needy with the most direct route from dependency to dignity and self-sufficiency," Irwin said.
"We believe in the virtue of work," Irwin added. "In order to do that, we need to have collaboration across all segments of the community."
The mission will be one link in the chain of services provided at the campus, but will remain a separate entity. The added space will be welcome, according to Ron Hicks, men's director at the Klamath Falls Gospel Mission.
Hicks oversees many of the day-to-day operations for the men at the mission, also sees the immediate need. Hicks walked the field on Sunday where he envisioned much-needed improvements for mission residents and volunteers.
"It kind of went from a plan to reality," Hicks said.
"This thing really is a miracle … It's going to give us the space we need."
Mission Executive Director Kent Berry echoed the sentiment. "This is fulfilling a vision that was given the gospel mission years ago," Berry said. "We're seeing that come to pass and we're thrilled to death."
A drone's eye view of Sunday's gathering. This is above the site of the new Gospel Mission and Klamath Works campus along South Sixth Street.
Volunteers served lunch Sunday during a celebration of the future site of the Klamath Falls Gospel Mission.