lantern House groundbreaking nears

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 11:54 AM

Flora Ogan

In 1981, a coalition of churches in the Ogden area undertook a daring, compassionate mission that led to the successful construction and operation of St. Anne’s, a shelter for the homeless in the western side of the community.

The need became apparent with transients wandering the streets, bedding down in an empty school on Lincoln, walking the avenues looking for handouts of food at the back doors of restaurants.

St. Anne’s became the refuge for the transients, the homeless and in more recent years, a temporary home for families with children, the fastest growing group of people who are struggling victims of varying circumstances.

The demand for enlarged and more utilitarian services comes with the enormous growth of the homeless.

The need spiraled, prompting another coalition of citizens to move aggressively toward the future and launch a capital campaign to provide new facilities to be known as the Lantern House.

To the good fortune of those who have dedicated time and energy to keep the present shelter up and going, many organizations and individuals answered the call for financial assistance. Steady donations of food and clothing have continued.

The network of organizations and foundations so legend to our area have now responded with generous contributions toward the new shelter. The capital fund is approaching the $6 million mark toward the $7 million goal.

The Lantern House will be constructed on a five acre site at 33rd and Pacific Ave. Groundbreaking now is within the summer season.

The operation at St. Anne’s last year provided approximately 38,000 nights of shelter of which 17 percent were children. Demand was so great many had to bed down on sleeping bags on the floors.

Among those sheltered, many are veterans, others are mentally challenged.

The good news is 38 percent of single men and women became employed and transitioned back into permanent housing. Within the families 12 teenagers graduated from high school and another 36 completed junior high school.

Lantern House is designed for 254 beds, with 14 family rooms with eight beds each. Men and women dorms will include 112 individual beds. After hours over flow will provide another 30 beds.

The enlarged facilities will offer new opportunities to help people change the trajectory of their lives.

If ever there was a clarion call for speeding up the Lantern House construction it was the voices of many of the St. Anne’s temporary dwellers, the volunteers and management seeking official community leaders to help overcome the dangers of crossing Wall Ave. that result in pedestrian deaths.

Crossing lanes have been promised by Utah Department of Transportation — yet to be designated. Better lighting promised.

But Wall avenue has a 40 MPH speed limit and to slow traffic is near-impossible, said Ogden Chief of Police Mike Ashment.

The pleas for help were in response to fatal accidents the past year, one on Christmas eve, the other Feb. 25th. Both pedestrian victims were crossing the poorly lighted street, while wearing dark clothing. Four other traffic accidents involved pedestrians injured during 2012 accidents.

Ashment points out these residents are back and forth at all hours and in most cases cannot be seen due to the dark clothing. They make choices to cross Wall at different places regardless of what is done to get them safely across.

It is a 40 mile-per-hour, major thoroughfare and to expect motorists to slow down in that area is not easy, the chief said.

He sees the establishment of the Lantern House as mitigating the serious safety hazards being experienced near St. Anne’s.

Those being helped are the weakest and also most forgotten. They deserve the help at St. Annes and the coming of Lantern House.

Allan and Kay Lipman are volunteer campaign co-chairs and say they are pleased that the financial support will enable the groundbreaking for Lantern House. However, the goal remains short of reaching the $7 million. Contributions large and small would be appreciated to take the plans into the final stage.

Additional information can be obtained by calling the Lipmans at 801-399-0391 or the shelter at 801-621-5036.

Ogan is a former editorial page editor for the Standard-Examiner. She lives in Roy.

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