The Ames Wards were involved with a project through St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church that involved renovating several shelters in Ames last fall.
“The Emergency Residence project was designed to completely remodel four apartments in Ames next to the community shelter on Kellogg,” said Brad Schrader, a member of the Ames LDS ward. Members of the Ames wards assisted other volunteers from St. Cecilia’s and from the Ames community on the restoration project.
The shelters, which were built in 1999, had not been renovated for the last 16 years, according to Deacon Alan Christy of St. Cecilia’s who spearheaded the restoration project and supervised the construction of the shelters. “They had done some work on the apartments, but they still had all the original stuff, like the carpets and appliances and countertops and that kind of stuff,” Deacon Christy said. “It all had sixteen years of use without being replaced. I wanted to do renovations, so I went to the Social Justice Committee and asked for money, estimating it would be about $13,000 to $14,000 per unit for four units. They couldn’t come up with it – they didn’t have the budget for it. But they did want to participate.”
Unsure where else to go, Deacon Christy thought of asking local churches for help with labor and money.
“We were unsure what to do,” said Deacon Christy. “Then I thought we should get other churches first.”
Deacon Christy approached the Ames Stake first. Though they expressed an interest in the project, they were unable to donate money. “My son (Bryan Shrader) and I contributed money because of the
importance and quality of the project, its visibility, and its leadership.” Brian said. “ I was able to help paint two of the apartments. Our full-time missionaries also helped with the painting. I think we had
a few other members who helped with demolition but I do not know for sure- we never had a completely organized effort. It was all done as a simple volunteer ‘if you have time’ basis. The other
congregations seemed to have fully organized work parties.”
“I also work as a member of the board of directors for the Story County Volunteer Center and our view is that the City of Ames general population really got behind this project and volunteered in large numbers,” Brian added.
“Everyone I contacted wanted to participate with labor, but it was a lot of money,” Deacon Christy said. “I finally decided that it wasn’t my project, it was the Lord’s and maybe we would get one building done this year and one next year, so I was thinking it would be a 4 year project. And then l I started getting calls back. We ended up with about eight churches involved, and each of them donated about $13,000 – $14,000 dollars and provided volunteers, so we had more than enough to do the project.”
In all, Deacon Christy estimates they raised almost $80,000, far more than they needed. The money all went towards additional restorations.
“We were able to spend all the money we took in on the project,” Deacon Christy said. “We took it down the drywall, took out the cabinets and plumbing fixtures and appliances and then started over. We took it down to the drywall, took out the drywall, then built it back up again. We replaced the carpet VCT flooring which is more durable and should last longer. We fixed up the basement in the men’s shelter next door, then did some other work.”
In addition to the money and volunteers, various contractors and suppliers in Ames offered in-kind donations and other aid to the project.
The shelter is part of the Emergency Residence Project. It is temporary housing that costs about 10% of what a normal apartment would cost. The hope is that those who use the shelter will save up for a deposit on their own apartment. ERP also helps those living in the shelters by putting them in contact with housing and offering money management classes. They are often involved in a variety of projects in the Ames community.