Trey Meyer , executive director of the Lawrence Community Shelter, says he believes in telling stories. He tells the story of his own battle with alcoholism to encourage others and he wants to tell the Community Shelter’s story to the local community.
“People hear the negatives about the shelter,” he told Central Rotarians on Feb. 17. “Our job is to tell them what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and the results. When they hear all about us, they’re happy to give us money.
“We’re solution oriented,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is to get people in here and then return them to society in better shape then they were.”
Meyer, started at the shelter as a driver, said changing mindsets is critical. People who are worried about surviving aren’t going to aspire to much else.
“At the end of the day everything we do is to give someone the reason to get up in the morning and go forward.”
Financial dislocations such as lost jobs bring people to the shelter. People come to because they’ve exhausted all other resources and they’re in crisis.
”We deal with mental health issues, occasional physical health issues. Alcohol is always a problem We work hard to make this a dry shelter for alcoholics. “
The shelter has 125 beds but houses many more in cold weather. “We have 35 or 40 in the family program and average 22 children, which is only about 25% of the homeless children in Douglas County.” In 2015 the shelter served 775 individuals with the help of local agencies such as Bert Nash, LMH.
In 2016 Meyer said he wants the shelter, which operates on a $900,000 budget, to do a better job with health resources and coaching to get people ready to leave, and to work to provide transitional housing for people ready to re enter society.
Drew vonEhrenkrook, director of employment and vocational rehabilitation at the shelter accompanied Meyer and talked to Rotarians after the meeting about his role in sharing skills and techniques that improve clients’ employability teaching life skills that are necessary to be successful in all aspects of independent living, finding employment opportunities, and helping clients who are employed maintain their jobs and morale.