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Published: Saturday, 7/23/2011

Renovations for Rebekah’s Haven

Women’s shelter expands

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR
Volunteer Dean Buckenmeyer puts up siding on the house that has been used as transitional housing for men preparing to move out on their own. Single women with children will now find shelter there. Volunteer Dean Buckenmeyer puts up siding on the house that has been used as transitional housing for men preparing to move out on their own. Single women with children will now find shelter there.
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It breaks the Rev. Tom Clapsaddle’s heart to turn anyone away — especially mothers with small children.

That’s why the executive director of the Toledo Gospel Rescue Mission has been working diligently to expand Rebekah’s Haven, the downtown Toledo mission’s shelter for homeless women.

Rebekah’s Haven, which opened in 2004, will soon add a second house, right next door to its current location on 20th Street.

The old facility has been maxed out for months, Mr. Clapsaddle said, providing shelter for both single women and mothers with families.

“We’re actually doubling the size of the ladies’ facility because we had to turn away so many ladies with small children,” he said.

As a former children’s pastor and a grandfather, Mr. Clapsaddle said turning away four to six moms a week weighed heavy on his heart.

The present facility has three bedrooms on the second floor for women with children, and a large room downstairs jammed with bunk beds that sleeps 10 single women.

When the new facility is finished, targeted for September, it will offer eight rooms for women with children; all of the present Rebekah’s Haven building will be used as a shelter for single women.

The Rev. Erich Christman, pastor of St. John’s Christian Church in Archbold, Ohio, was among the volunteers putting vinyl siding over the peeling white clapboard exterior. Rebekah’s Haven, which opened in 2004, is run by the Toledo Gospel Rescue Mission. The facility has been maxed out for months. The Rev. Erich Christman, pastor of St. John’s Christian Church in Archbold, Ohio, was among the volunteers putting vinyl siding over the peeling white clapboard exterior. Rebekah’s Haven, which opened in 2004, is run by the Toledo Gospel Rescue Mission. The facility has been maxed out for months.
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“We’re excited, very excited,” said Denise Kamer, the desk clerk at Rebekah’s Haven. “We get five calls a day from women with children. I try to help them, but the community just doesn’t have a place for homeless women with kids.”

Mary Clapsaddle, Tom’s wife, said it doesn’t take much for a single mother to lose her home.

“It’s a growing problem. If their car breaks down, they can’t go to work. Then they can’t pay their bills. If dad’s not helping out, they have nowhere to turn,” she said.

The new house for Rebekah’s Haven, whose slogan is “Shelter from the Storms of Life,” has been used as transitional housing for men preparing to move out on their own.

Just when Mr. Clapsaddle was getting desperate to add space for the women’s shelter, four of the five men in the transitional facility moved out.

“God said, ‘Duh! Why not use that building!’” Mr. Clapsaddle said. “It’s right next door. It was perfect.”

The Toledo Gospel Rescue Mission’s board of directors approved his plan, and one week later a man walked into Mr. Clapsaddle’s office unannounced and said he wanted to donate a house on 19th Street to the mission. That house will now be used as transitional housing for men in the future.

“God had it all worked out. We just had to wait on him,” Mr. Clapsaddle said with a smile.

Volunteers from area churches, businesses, and labor unions have been doing the renovation work.

Friday, four men from St. John’s Christian Church in Archbold, Ohio, were putting vinyl siding over the peeling white clapboard exterior. The nondenominational church has been helping out at the mission for about five years, said the Rev. Erich Christman, pastor. They serve meals and lead a Sunday Bible study four times a year, and have held clothing drives and block parties to benefit the charity.

Yesterday, as temperatures soared into the high 90s, the St. John’s volunteers were busy hanging and hammering the siding on the west side of the building.

“The heat’s not a problem,” Mr. Christman said. “We’re working in the shade, there’s a nice breeze, and we’ve got plenty of water.”

Toledo Gospel Rescue Mission, founded in 1952, operates on a modest budget of about $250,000 a year.

The community’s needs have been rising faster than the revenue, Mr. Clapsaddle said, saying that the mission is on track to serve 150,000 meals in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, up more than 50 percent from 97,000 meals in 2010.

The mission also will provide an estimated 17,000 nights of shelter this year.

“We’re full. Even in the summer,” Mr. Clapsaddle said.

Sunday, Mr. and Mrs. Clapsaddle, members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, will be joining other bikers in a “Ride for Rebekah’s Haven,” a fund-raising motorcycle ride starting at noon at Signature Harley-Davidson, 1176 Professional Drive, Perrysburg.

The bikers will follow the roads along the Maumee River to Defiance, Ohio, ending their ride in downtown Toledo with a hog roast starting at 4 p.m. at Toledo Gospel Rescue Mission, 1917 Jefferson Ave.

Registration at the Harley-Davidson dealer will be from 10 a.m. to noon. The cost is $20 for single riders; $25 for riders with passengers. For nonriders, a donation of $7 is suggested for the hog roast. For information on the motorcycle run, call 419-367-2721. For information on Rebekah’s Haven, call 419-241-6579 or go online at toledogospelrescuemission.org.

Contact David Yonke at: dyonke@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.



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