Cumberland Family Shelter unveils newly renovated residential building

The Rural Development Corporation doubled the capacity it has for clients at the Cumberland Family Shelter after opening a new building at the facility.

Volunteers spent approximately two years renovating one of the shelter buildings on the facility — replacing the roof, drywall ceiling, bathrooms, extermination of a termite infestation and other overhauls.

According to the people who worked on the renovations, basically everything in the building was replaced except for the brick walls.

Members of the Rural Development Corporation officially dedicated the building during Monday’s open house event.

“This is a very exciting day for us,” said Michael P. Killeen, board president for the development corporation. “It’s a day that we’ve been looking forward to for years and a lot of people — all of you and others that are not here today — have made this day possible.”

Known simply as building #2, the building allows 56 more people who are homeless and in need of assistance to stay at Cumberland Family Shelter. Monday’s dedication ceremony took place in the common area when one first walks into the building and from there the visitors took tours of the living spaces. Each room had new bunk beds and dressers for the future residents — with one room even containing a white crib for a homeless parent with a small child.

“Back when we started the remodeling of this building, we had a slight indicator two years ago because of the economy that it may be needed,” said Tammy Morris, executive director. “We just didn’t think it would take this long to finish the project.”

While the renovations were done on building #2, building #1 served as the sole shelter space at the facility and a maximum capacity of 56 residents. Due to the limited capacity, there has been a waiting list of people who wish to use the shelter.

“So, the pressure was on to hurry up and get this building done so we can start assisting those in need of getting help,” Morris said.

Each resident is given food three times a day from the Southern Regional Food Distribution Center, which is also run by the Rural Development Corporation and is located on the same property as the shelter, along with clothes, hygiene products and bus transportation.

With the renovations completed, more people can now be given much needed assistance at the homeless shelter.

Christopher Smaniotto, who works maintenance for the non-profit, worked every day he could over the two-year process to fix the building and helped the 20 volunteers who assisted during the process.

“Basically it was a ground-up renovation — everything but the bricks pretty much,” he said. “All the trim and everything got done.”

Looking at the finished product — some touch-ups aside — he said the building turned out very well.

Arlene Cherwien of Redeemer Lutheran Church took pictures of the project as each piece of renovation was put in place and the transformation has been nothing short of miraculous.

“Every time I came here there was a change,” she said. “It just evolved. It was amazing to watch.”

Three of the men who helped the project — Redeemer Lutheran Church Project Coordinator Edward Morvay, Pastor Gary Stiegler and Wayne Grant — were honored with plaques at the ceremony.

Officials also honored the memory of two volunteers who died before seeing the project come to fruition — Augusta Allen and Robert Penven — by making a plaque bearing their names to hang up in the facility.

Rural Development Corporation also plans on making similar renovations to building #1 in the future with updates similar to building #2.

All of the work is done to fill a need in Cumberland County and to help people, according to Killeen.

“Life matters — every person matters to us,” he said. “Regardless of race or color — every person matters”

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