To provide food, shelter and kindness to anyone in need during the coldest months of the year.
In January of 2014, a group of concerned Shoals citizens got together to discuss the safety of our homeless population.
We knew that many of the homeless population lacked adequate shelter as they slept in their cars, parks, and tents around town. With temperatures below freezing, we knew something had to be done. Volunteers from different churches and community organizations gathered. Within a week, a plan had been formed to house and feed those in need at First Presbyterian Church of Florence on nights when the temperature was below freezing. For 39 nights in January, February, and March, a group of friends led by Beth Howard and Lance Howard and Krista Manchester, began to house and feed our homeless friends that we had met. We reached out to all of our friends and asked them to help. Every night that it was freezing, we would organize a group to provide food for dinner and breakfast and volunteers to spend the night. We became known as “the Warming Center.” With the help of our friends and community, we did this for 39 night and served 57 guests.
After the winter was over, Beth and Krista sat down and realized that there needed to be a more permanent solution, but that they warming center model wasn't sustainable. Between google and a friend who had knowledge about a program called Room in the Inn, they decided to drive to Nashville, where Room in the Inn had first started. Room in the Inn is an organization that began in 1987 and still exists today. After meeting with their team, they assured Beth and Krista that they could use the Room in the Inn Model to continue helping the homeless in their community. Neither Beth, nor Krista had any experience with this kind of work or even with starting a non-profit for that matter. But the team in Nashville assured them that they believed in them and that they had essential already started a "Room in Inn" based on the model of the Warming Center.
So in September of 2014, a leadership team was formed and a partnership was made with First Presbyterian Church of Downtown Florence. We invited the churches that had previously participated in the warming center, as well as a group of friends that had an interest in helping. We incorporated, applied to be a 501c3 non-profit, started a Facebook page and on a wing and a prayer and $500, we officially launched Room in the Inn in January 2015.
Today, we have 46 partner congregations, over 150 intake volunteers, and have sheltered over 530 guests. Many prayers have been answered during this journey.
We are excited to see where God leads us as we answer the call to help our friends in need! #everyonematters