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Published: Monday, 3/1/2004

Wauseon weighs need for shelters

WAUSEON - Fulton County has a homeless shelter in Archbold, and now a group of residents is trying to create one in Wauseon, then in other parts of the county.

Those interested are invited to discuss the issues of homelessness and poverty at a meeting at 7 tonight. A roundtable discussion will be held to discuss a plan to create shelters like the Friendship House, which opened in Archbold in June, 2002.

“I guess what we're looking for is a sense of commitment in addressing the need,” said Paul zumFelde, Luther Social Services' western region director.

Cecily Rohrs, who founded the county's first shelter, will speak on the topic. Ms. Rohrs said occupancy at the two-story Friendship House is running at 85 percent.

The shelter, at South and South Defiance streets, was purchased for $65,000. The money was collected from about a dozen local churches, four Sunday school classes, and about 150 individuals.

Mr. zumFelde said a funding source has not been established for a Wauseon shelter, but interest and a need for one were expressed during meetings held in the fall with Fulton County leaders.

Ultimately, Mr. zumFelde said organizers hope to establish a shelter in Wauseon and work on similar efforts within each county school district.

The Friendship House has a $2,000-a-month budget and operates largely on donations, grants, and fund-raisers. It recently was awarded $1,250 from the Detroit Lions organization, Ms. Rohrs said.

Tonight's meeting will be in the Clover room at the Robert Fulton Agricultural Center, across from the Fulton County Fairgrounds on State Rt. 108.

Ms. Rohrs said adding shelters will depend on the commitment and interest from those in attendance.

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