Harrisonburg Salvation Army reopens emergency shelter

Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 6:25 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The Salvation Army of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County held a ribbon cutting for the long-awaited reopening of its emergency shelter on Thursday. The shelter had been closed since March following allegations of mismanagement.

The shelter’s reopening comes at a time of great need as the city’s homeless currently have nowhere to go at night. Over the last six months, the shelter has been renovated, staff have been hired, and it is set to open its doors to guests on Friday.

“The men’s bathroom upstairs has been completely redone, two bathrooms downstairs and the handicap rooms have been completely redone. The whole building has been gone through and painted, holes have been fixed, lights have been fixed, just a general good time cleaning,” said Captain Duane Burleigh of the Harrisonburg Salvation Army.

Captain Burleigh said that over the last six months hiring staff for the shelter has been the top priority.

“We have restaffed. We have a shelter director in place. We hired three new shelter monitors. We probably could use a couple more, but we’re ready to go. We have enough staff now to do it and do it properly and make sure that we’re helping people,” he said.

The shelter’s new staff have also been trained to be able to provide case management for guests.

“To assure that they’re improving their condition. We’re not here just to house them, we want to help them and give them a hand-up,” said Burleigh.

The shelter will be open from 4 p.m. until 8 a.m. each day and can house up to 38 people. Burleigh said the shelter doesn’t have the financial resources to be open 24/7 but hopes it will get to that point in the future.

“I’m looking forward to allowing people back in the shelter and being able to help them. That’s in my heart, that’s in my mind, that’s in my soul, is to help people that are homeless and get them out of homelessness and into a better situation for them and their families,” said Burleigh.

Burleigh said he hopes the shelter will serve as a beacon for the city’s homeless.

“A lighthouse saved my life when I was heading in the wrong direction and I thought about Jesus being a light and that was a lighthouse. I want to offer that same lighthouse to people coming into the shelter now, we want to be a beacon shining out to say come into our safe harbor and let us help you,” he said.