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Sue Guinn Legg

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Patience key ingredient in Manna House expansion

July 9th, 2011 8:43 pm by Sue Guinn Legg

Work to expand the Manna House transitional shelter for military veterans and other men working to overcome issues that contribute to homelessness is moving kind of slow.
Supporters of shelter ceremonially broke ground on a 1,000-square-foot expansion in April and announced plans to double the size of its kitchen and for the first time provide an indoor meeting area large enough to accommodate all of its 21 residents.
The work began in earnest May with the demolition of a covered porch located just off the kitchen that for many years served as a favorite gathering place for the counseling meetings of the residents’ group. By the end of June a gas line and flag pole were also moved to make way for the new addition.
“It’s moving kind of slow,” House Manager Joe Halloway said as he watched and waited Thursday for the volunteer who will complete the next big step, excavation of a full basement and holes for the footers that will support the new addition. “I’m not sure which one it is, but he’ll be here when he can. He could be here any minute,” Halloway said with confidence.
Bob Garrett, director of the nonprofit Fairview Housing agency that owns and operates the shelter, said Friday the expansion is being done primarily through in-kind gifts of materials and labor from contractors who are working around other commitments. Considering the value of the contractors gifts, he said, “We are being patient” and “trying to be good stewards of people’s money, people who have made have donations.”
As a result, the target date for completion has been moved ahead to sometime before winter.
Since the groundbreaking, the $75,000 capital campaign for the expansion has moved beyond the half-way mark to about $37,500. In addition to the excavation, in-kind gifts so far include pledges of materials and labor to complete the foundation and the labor that will go into framing. Supporters are working to secure the needed lumber.
Major contributors so far include the Reitzer Group International, for which the new addition will be named the Reitzer Enclave, members of the Johnson City Area Home Builders Association, Grace Fellowship Church, Good Samaritan Ministries and Rolling Thunder.
Garrett said he will continue to pursue any grant money that may be available.
In the meantime, The Manna House residents, managers and volunteers are conducting their daily group counseling sessions on and around its small front porch and crowding into its tiny living room when it rains.
More information about the expansion and the ongoing capital campaign may be obtained by calling Garrett at 612-2995. More information about the shelter and its transitional support program for homeless veterans and others is available online at

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