More homeless seek shelter since the closure of YWCA

By Joe Bennett

January 2, 2013 Updated Jan 3, 2013 at 2:32 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- Since the closing of the YWCA Peoria in mid-October, homeless women seeking food, shelter, and social services have found some relief through the Salvation Army Heartland Division.

"That's become a very busy population for us as well," said Assistant Development Director at the Salvation Army Rich Draeger. "As a matter of fact, just about any day in the Fites building we see 50 to 60 people on a regular basis anyway, and then probably cram in a few more with cold weather in the last week or so."

Draeger says the organization's Family Services Center used to see those numbers just during the lunch hour Monday through Friday.

Now the center is in search of more volunteers with more people on the streets.

Homeless women staying at the Dream Center overnight now have to walk to the Sylvia Fites Family Services Center to seek shelter from the cold during the day.

"Without services like the YWCA and Salvation Army, we would be out on the streets," said Rebecca Foukes. "We would be cold, and it wouldn't be feasible. There's nowhere else for us to stay otherwise."

Rebecca Foukes says women like her no longer have the amenities they once had through the YWCA, like showers and laundry.

She is grateful, however, for food donations at the drop-in dinner the Sylvia Fites Center now provides on the weekends.

"We get regular food like ham, turkey and mashed potatoes," Foukes said. "I mean you take that all for granted when you have money, and then you become homeless and you don't have nothing."

Draeger says with an increase of homeless persons at the Salvation Army, the organization can provide even more assistance to those individuals in need of employment and social services.

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