Saturday, November 28, 2009

Waycool Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving - Great day at the Mission Thursday, we served most of our residents in the grand ballroom of the new hotel. Between Jefferson Street and Broadway we had over 1198 volunteers throughout the day - an all time record, serving about 2,890 meals. In addition to the Mission choir and band, we also had violinists, flute players, Christian breakdancers, face painters and story tellers. Residents were served on white linen tablecloths, china, glassware with flowers on the tables. The hotel is a waycool place for holiday celebrations.

Friday, November 20, 2009

An opportunity for cooperation by Hal Heiner

Our community has come together in the past to dramatically improve people's lives. In a historic educational partnership, Metro College was created with UPS, University of Louisville and city government to open up college for thousands of Louisvillians that otherwise may have been unable to advance their education.

Today, three important institutions, Wayside Christian Mission, the Jefferson Community & Technical College (JCTC) and metro government have another opportunity to showcase Louisville's greatness. Wayside's purchase of a newly renovated hotel at Second and Broadway offers the opportunity of using affordable housing, proximity to jobs, workforce training and in-house child care to powerfully help women attain their financial independence. By working together we can build this next important partnership.
Wayside's master plan revitalizes a failed hotel into a transitional housing community for women and children facing homelessness. This plan, which will incorporate retail, non-profit offices, community events, college housing and social services, is well-researched to address community concerns and has proven successful in other cities, even in New York City's Time Square.
The solutions to poverty and family homelessness are interlocked with education, transportation, child care and access to better jobs. Wayside is adjacent to JCTC, located on the Broadway mass transit line and near downtown jobs. These advantages, along with Wayside's ability to host on-site child care, make this location an unbeatable spot for helping women by increasing their education while keeping families intact. We should invite Jefferson County Public Schools, JCTC and our city's social service and job placement agencies to offer their services inside the Wayside hotel to help women move from poverty to work.
Jefferson Community & Technical College is an important leader in this discussion and their education mission needs room to expand. Wayside is willing to make 70 percent of its 3-acre site available for JCTC expansion. Let's find a way to combine the goals of both organizations into a solution producing more than either can imagine.
We need a collaborative effort fostered by metro government to bring together Wayside, JCTC, metro regulators and social services to complement, not hinder, this important mission. Hiding homelessness is never a solution. It is time for our city to show vision, compassion and strong leadership by bringing all parties together to embrace this challenge and opportunity.
By supporting Wayside and its mission of compassion, we can show the nation why we are the greatest city. We can be both the greatest in providing an effective transition out of homelessness and in the expansion of our community college system. Please join me in speaking up by contacting your Metro Council member, the mayor and everyone involved. We can make this work for everyone.
Hal Heiner is a Louisville Metro councilman. He is seeking the Republican nomination for mayor in 2010.


Staff and volunteers are preparing for the Mission’s Annual Thanksgiving Banquet which will be held at Wayside’s Hotel Louisville location, 120 West Broadway. The grand ballroom, located on the second floor will be the site of this meal which will be open to the public. Turkeys and Hams have been supplied by Kentucky Harvest and an anonymous individual in our community. The Thanksgiving meals will include a Breakfast Fit for a King and a traditional Thanksgiving Lunch and Supper that will include:

• Turkey
• Ham
• Chitterlinges
• Green Beans
• Stuffing
• Rolls
• And much more

Hotel quests staying in our economy (one cent) rooms will be invited to participate as will Wayside shelter clients that are housed in our shelters on Market and Jefferson Streets. For many of these shelter guests as well as many of our volunteers, this will be their first look at the new hotel’s magnificent banquet space. The kitchen at the hotel, which has been inspected and approved by the Metro Board of Health Department, will be used in the preparation as will the Jefferson Street kitchen.

We are planning to serve our guests on round tables with cloth table clothes and napkins. The Banquet room will seat three hundred guests at a time allowing all of the hotel guests and about 200 clients from Market and Jefferson Street to sit down together and have a wonderful meal. The Jefferson Street kitchen and dinning room will also serve the Thanksgiving meal to many residents that are disabled or who are coming in off the street. In all we plan to serve about 2,500 Thanksgiving meals.

Volunteers will provide special music for our guests and the kids will be entertained by face painters and clowns. Volunteers will be assigned to one of the two sites so that we can have equally great meals. Karaoke will be the norm during the afternoon and the Down by the Wayside Choir will be performing at the hotel during breakfast and lunch.

Serving times:
Breakfast 7-9 AM
Lunch Noon-2 PM
Supper 5-6:30 PM

Volunteers will be needed at both locations and will also be needed in-between meal times to help prepare and cook the meals. Please contact our volunteer coordinator, Kim Likins at 584-3711 or email her at You can also email me at Normally the supper meal has fewer volunteers and needs more assistance if that will work with your schedule.

If you are interested in bringing treats that can be prepared in our kitchen please let us know. The new kitchen on Broadway offers a great amount of space for willing volunteers to work on special projects.

FEMA Audit Completed

The Mission receives about 55,000 dollars each year from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and we had a random audit by FEMA completed today. The auditor said “we (Wayside) are doing a great job”. The Mission spends a good deal of time and resources each day to be accountable to our supporters, both private and public supporters. We also elect to have a complete independent audit each year and have done so for over the 24 years. Our board keeps strong financial over sight of the Missions financial operation and includes CPA’s and well as investment experts as members of our finance committee. We are proud of our record of total accountability in every aspect of our operations and are please to have such a positive review from FEMA.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Common Ground - a hotel project similar to Wayside's plans

The Times Square – Common Ground
Acquired by Common Ground in 1991, the Times Square is the largest permanent supportive housing project in the nation. A once-stately neighborhood fixture that had fallen into serious disrepair, Common Ground carefully preserved the building’s historic character while redeveloping it into housing for 652 low-income and formerly homeless individuals and persons living with HIV/AIDS.

The Times Square combines permanent affordable housing with a range of on-site social services provided by Common Ground’s social service partner, the Center for Urban Community Services. Individualized support services are designed to help tenants maintain their housing, address health issues, and pursue education and employment. On-site assistance with physical and mental health issues and substance abuse is available to all tenants, six days a week. Property management services, including 24-hour security, are provided by Common Ground’s affiliated not-for-profit property management company, Common Ground Community.

Common Ground’s Tenant Services staff offers programs and activities to enhance a sense of community, e.g., a six-week financial literacy workshop, a community health fair, and workshops covering topics such as portrait drawing and cooking. Common areas include a garden roof deck (available for rent to the public); a computer laboratory; a library; an art studio; a medical clinic; 24-hour laundry facilities; a rehearsal space featuring floor-to-ceiling dance mirrors and a piano; and an exercise room.

The Top of the Times, a spacious community room on the top floor with sweeping views of the city, is used for tenant events, and provides revenue for the building through rentals to the general public.

The building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, features a double-height lobby which serves as a gallery for displaying the work of local and community artists. Rooms are fully furnished, with private baths, kitchenettes, and ceiling fans.

The Times Square has received several awards for its innovative programs and historic preservation and design, including the Rudy Bruner and Bard Awards, and has been featured in national media including The New York Times, CBS’s 60 Minutes, and National Public Radio.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


You may wonder what in the world are we going to do with a hotel with 287 rooms. These are some of our ideas and thoughts that could come into reality should the city grant our letter of interpretation to approve our usage and the building not be condemned by the state or local government:
• Family and Women’s Transitional Facility: First and foremost we want to have a safe, well secured place that will accommodate families with children and single women who are on a positive track – putting their lives back together.
• Many of these folks are victims of child or spouse abuse and need a safe place.
• Many are waiting on public housing or section 8 housing, which often takes months.
• Some are mentally ill and need our attention and the help of others.
• Some are recovering from physical illnesses or disabilities and need a temporary home.
• Others are recovering from alcohol and drug abuse and need a place to continue a positive path: a place where sobriety and working a 12 step program are encouraged.
• College and Career Floors: We are planning to set aside two floors for people who have a proven track record and who are intent on entering college or technical school. This facility will offer a space for women to go full time to school, attend case management, and receive tutoring and many support services. Most of our women have lost hope of this type of opportunity, however with the proper support from the city on usage these women will be on their way to a better job, breaking the poverty cycle and given a once in a lifetime chance. An added benefit is that a college exists next door.
• Child Care for Homeless Children: We have operated a child care center since the early 90’s. We faithfully drive a bus from shelter to shelter in Louisville and pick up children to provide free child care to mothers and fathers looking for jobs, have medical appointments or other pressing needs. Yes, the kids at Wayside also stay in the child care, but many others come in on the bus each day and then are taken back to their respective shelter in the afternoon. To start this at the hotel we need a conditional use permit, again needing city approval. This center is one of a handful serving homeless children in our country. Our city should be proud of this opportunity and support its move to the hotel.
• Permanent Supportive Housing for Women: We currently have six apartments on our Market Street site and the women would love to move to the hotel. However, even though these women are mentally or physically disabled and need the Mission and the permanent supportive housing to survive and stay off the street, our hands are tied until the city gives us approval.
• Homeless Veteran’s Housing for Women and Families: We have a grant through the VA that is for veterans with families and women veterans who need a place to stay temporarily, however once again this program is on hold. Women who have fought for our country are blocked from moving due to the decisions our local government has made or should I say failed to make.
• Chapel and Bible Study: We are a Christian Mission and our guests are always offered a weekly chapel and often Bible Studies during the week. Spiritual growth is central to developing hope in the midst of despair. Prayer and worship keeps us focused on meaning and give our lives purpose and direction.
• Art Gallery – Our current art gallery, “Wayside Expressions” will be moved from its Market Street site to a ball room located on the first floor of the hotel. This gallery has been a part of the Market Street First Friday Gallery Hop for several years and shows art from local artist as well as art from homeless people. It is a regular stop for serious art enthusiasts.
We think these programs will take up about half the building. Below are some additional ideas, some in discussion, other committed and waiting on a green light from our local government.
• We have been in conversation with the Coalition for the Homeless about renting seven offices for their staff and programs.
• We have had serious discussions with another non-profit’s board that helps low income families that have family members in local hospitals. This program provides rooms and support programs to family members dealing with loved ones in crisis.
• We have had serious discussions with representatives from the homeless health care service providers about leasing a floor to provide respite or recovery care to homeless people needing time to recover form health problems.
• We have submitted a bid to U of L to use two floors for medical support office space. The bid contract was withdrawn and will likely be re-announced in the near future. Of course, even if we were awarded the contract we would need city approval of our plans.
• We have spoken with several smaller non-profits who would like to have a room for office space. Again we need the city to approve our request.
• We are planning to open a Christian Coffee Shop in the former Brick’s Lounge. We have a committee that has met a number of times but will likely only proceed when we know we will be able to move our shelter operations.
• We are planning a four or five dollar plate lunch meal, similar to the closed Miller Café that will be open to the public, bringing back the old character of Broadway.
• We have plans to hold special hotel room or floor rental during Derby.
• We will rent meeting and ballroom space to businesses. To other similar non-profits, we plan to share this building’s meeting rooms and ballrooms, allowing others to benefit so that their programs can do good work in our community.
o We recently rented one meeting room to a local architect firm that had nearly one hundred guests. They were very pleased with the hotel and the great parking.
o We are in conversation with several non-profits about supplying free meeting space for upcoming conventions.
Some people wonder, “Is this building too big?” I think it is just right. As you can see with the proper city governmental support, great things can happen. In New York a program called Common Ground took an old, 600-room hotel and did something very similar to what we are planning. They partnered with businesses like Ben and Jerry’s and opened restaurants to the public while staffing them with their supportive housing residents. The interesting thing about this is that it happened in TIMES SQUARE, right in the middle of downtown. This could be a reality in Louisville as well if we can get government approval to proceed.
Another side note about the BIG building is that we are use to lots of square footage under many, many roofs at our old campus on Market Street. Although this building has its headaches for general operation, it is nothing like the hodgepodge of mechanical and electrical systems we fought with on Market Street. The building was built by the late Al Schneider and he did a wonderful job. The design is unbelievable and the electrical and mechanical systems are all central. We have hired a technician to maintain these systems and we have an army of volunteers that are waiting in the wings. If God allows us to keep the hotel, many lives will be helped and saved by the services waiting to be provided.
Will our families and women be a problem for the neighborhood? NO WAY. Our people are good people, they are in need, and the children are beautiful and full of love. They just need a little help. When they checked into the hotel for the first night I told them that some people in the area will be afraid of them because when they think of a homeless person, they picture a middle-aged male with an alcohol/drug problem. They think you will bring that element into the area. I say you need to be careful in the neighborhood. Stay in where it is safe and go out only during daylight hours. Keep your children with you at all times. The reality is that you will bring stability to the neighborhood. You will become students at the neighboring college and you will operate the coffee shop and restaurant providing a service to the public. You will be the employees of neighboring businesses and people who use the library, the YMCA and the parks. You will get on your feet and eventually move to an apartment and be a productive citizen in our community. When my wife and I walk the hallways of the new hotel, you can hear a pin drop, every once in a while, you may hear a baby cry. My guess is, this is the quietest hotel in the city.
This could be a beautiful building full of ministry. Shelter care, child care, supportive housing, VA services, offices for other non-profits, a restaurant and coffee shop open to the public, college and career support that few homeless people ever thought possible. It would be a shame to see these opportunities go by the Wayside.
Let’s save the dreams and ideas that could be a reality in just a few short months. Let’s get government working for its people. Pray for the miracle; pray that eyes will be opened and hearts touched.


The Board of Health performed a State Hotel Inspection at Hotel Louisville today and we passed. Women and children who are currently renting rooms in the hotel will be able to continue if they wish until their 30 days are up. They will then have to exit for 24 hours, but then they may check back in for an additional 30 days. The rooms that these former Emergency Shelter guests are renting are our economy rooms that cost only one cent per night. People in the community have donated their pennies to be used to pay for the rooms so our guests will not have to worry about the small expense.
On Friday of last week the Board of Health inspected the kitchen facilities at the hotel and gave us a green light for operation. This will allow us to actually cook and serve food in the building when we are ready. Each of these two inspections indicated some minor violations that will be easily corrected but we expected that with a new operation.
With these two conditions met we are now looking forward to preparing and serving our Thanksgiving meal in the Grand Ballroom at the hotel. The room will offer more space than we have ever had to work with, seating 300 guests at a time and providing space for entertainment and servers. We look forward to providing a wonderful meal to our guests and visitors on that special day for the Mission.

Penny Rooms - thank God

What is a penny really worth?

A penny is worth a safe room and a warm bed.

A penny can help with a moral stand – what’s right is right.

A penny can say, “I care enough to help.”

A penny can symbolize that I am for the underdog.

A penny can help fight the insanity and discrimination in our community.

A penny can save a life and help spread God’s love to people in need.

I never really knew just how much a penny was worth until it was used to rent a hotel room for people in need. When I count my pennies I will always count my blessings.

Today a number of good people dropped by the Mission and gave us their bags of pennies and asked that we use them to rent rooms for the women and children.

Blessings to all of you who are fighting for the poor!