Salina Grace Community Resource Center was started as a way of trying to help those who are unsheltered get into a shelter or housing – as well as helping to connect those who are housed with the resources they need to prevent homelessness. To some it is their everything.
The concept and conversation took place well over five years ago between many community members of the crisis intervention team (CIT) which Chris Smull, was a part. At the time Chris was a case manager for Central Kansas Mental Health that worked with the outreach program for the homeless and was passionate about helping those in need. There were many discussions with the crisis intervention team (CIT) that Salina needed a one-stop resource center that brought resources to those in need.
Young now oversees the program as the Director and Smull as a Care Manager. The resource center has created an environment of education, support, advocacy, empowerment, community giveback and most importantly trust.
"Just in the month of May, SGCRC has welcomed 1,181 people through their doors with many being repeats. They have served 269 different people, 381 referrals, 37 were new clients and 803 lunches." said Smull, also known at the resource center as Mom Boss. "
"The CRC understands that while a housing first model may be appropriate for some people, most of those we work with need help to address the core issues that created the homelessness to begin with." said Young.
Through the help of many local partners and organization that provide 30-50 hours per month at the center, they are able to provide the resources of mental health appointments, medical appointments, medications, health and safety education, food cards, resume building, job seeking, bible study, court appointments, obtaining I.D.s and lunches. Asking people who are already overwhelmed with their situation to navigate through the many resources to find the programs they need through multiple organizations can be very overwhelming. Chris Smull takes the time to understand each person’s situation and helps them get connected with the right agencies that are best positioned to help them. She also helps to coordinate services for the individual when working with multiple agencies. The concept is to wrap the services around the person in a collaborative way to be effective.
Mental health is a at a crisis in Kansas and across the nation with fewer resources being offered from government agencies it has fallen on the private sector and not-for-profits to become assertive in helping to address this issue. A large percentage of those that use the center have been diagnosed with mental health disorders. They have been able to work effectively in partnership with Central Kansas Mental Health to help many get back on mental health medication and to reengage in mental health services.
As a community center, they also provided services to anyone that has fallen on hard times. "Experiencing a job loss and becoming homeless in itself is a traumatic experience that can lead to depression and PTSD. That is why we address mental health as a priority." said Smull. "Then we figure out the best way to get each of them on the right path for success."
The Resources Center has helped 41 patrons get jobs since January. “Having 75% of the patrons we work with keep their jobs and continue to work towards self-sufficiency is encouraging,” says Chad Young, Executive Director.
Most everyone through the doors heard of the program through word of mouth. When patrons of the CRC are asked what they feel they need the most? The most popular answer is just to be acknowledged and accepted as a human. Smull said, letting them each tell their story, listening and follow through is what has lead to the trusted and respected environment.
The Salina Community Resource Center is located at 142 S. 7th St in Salina and is open Monday - Friday 8 am – 4:30 pm. Lunch is served at 11:30 am and is provided by Christ Cathedral of Salina with Crissy Cook overseeing the food program. Cook has only been with the program a short time and is already seeing what an impact it has in Salina. Working with volunteers, she provides home cooked, nutritional meals. Volunteers are welcomed to help with food prep and serving.
To learn more visit: salinagrace.org