FORT WAYNE — Vincent House, located at 2827 Holton Ave. in Fort Wayne, recently underwent an extreme makeover with renovations that made this community shelter for homeless families a place they can call home. The shelter opened its doors in 1989 and has been a starting point for over 700 homeless families.
At an open house held on Oct. 28 the community was invited to tour the newly remodeled facility that once served as a convent for the Sisters of St. Hyacinth. Ann Helmke, executive director of Vincent Village, Inc., says board members and staff were on hand to guide the near 50 visitors, including Bishop John M. D’Arcy, bishop emeritus, through the facility.
Over the years, new paint and floor coverings have kept the interior of the shelter viable. The building had been sided in the past and wheelchair accessibility was added. But more was needed to provide a family-friendly space. So this year massive renovations, made possible by a grant from the city of Fort Wayne and the dedicated work of the Vincent Village maintenance crew, have modernized the facility.
The interior renovations include four completely remodeled bathrooms, all new doors and door frames, new paint throughout and all new flooring. Walls have been removed to create a great room effect with an all new kitchen-dining room.
The shelter provides temporary housing for families in need and has a waiting list of families needing shelter. Of those 33 currently housed, 21 are children. Helmke says, “The need is great. We’re always full and two-thirds of the homeless we serve are children.”
She adds that a typical family consists of a single mother with several children.
“But we never split up families,” Helmke reports, “If the family has a dad, he comes too.”
The Vincent Village organization was the brainchild of Bishop D’Arcy in the late 1980s, and was initially funded by a grant from the Bishop’s Appeal and HUD. It has developed from a shelter into a village with several homes and supportive services offered to the families as stepping stones to independence.
For information on Vincent Village visit www.vincentvillage.org or call (260) 456-4172.
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