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Pekin nonprofit to open homeless day shelter


PEKIN (WEEK) -- Pekin Outreach Initiative will be opening a day shelter to help its homeless community. The shelter is an idea nearly a decade in the making.

The nonprofit purchased the home in Downtown Pekin over the summer to renovate into a day shelter.

Their founder and president, Lynne Johnson, said their main goals have been shelter, food and transportation.

"Working in social services for years in this community, I've seen first hand what people need," said Johnson.

A 'one stop shop' for people in need is what Johnson hopes to offer. The shelter will have legal and counseling services, hot meals and a laundry room.

"That's a big deal for somebody that's homeless and hasn't had clean clothes for three or four days," Johnson said.

There will be a personal care pantry with toiletires and clothes to offer people. Vice president of the organization, Greg Ranney, said this type of facility is needed in Pekin.

"We know that they need to be somewhere other than out in the cold," said Ranney.

Ranney said they couldn't have done it on their own. Everything from purchasing the home, renovating it and adding furniture in the house has either been donated or came from money raised.

"Everybody that we've talked to wants to donate. I mean, I'm talking the time and the furniture and the energy and things like that. That gentleman out there is building a ramp by himself," Ranney said.

Eventually, Johnson said they want to turn the day shelter into an overnight shelter, but for now they are focused on getting their doors open and people out of the cold in the next 30 days.

"I don't think we'll ever have met our goal until there are no longer homeless and no longer people living in poverty in Pekin," said Johnson.

For more information on how to volunteer or donate to the organization, visit their Facebook page.

Paige Blanzy

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