Group plans homeless shelter, soup kitchen


By Patsy Nicosia

Schoharie County’s homeless exist.
Some of them spent the winter in the basements of empty buildings.
Others, in darkened corners of public buildings.
Some of them are living--for a while—with family. Still others, in their cars.
And many, many are a paycheck or two away from joining.
Though some are skeptical homelessness is even an issue here, Carol McGuire, a member of a coalition that hopes to first, open a soup kitchen, and later, a 19-bed shelter, assured members of the Village of Cobleskill last Tuesday that they’re their neighbors.
Ms. McGuire said the coalition includes representatives from the Salvation Army, the Department of Social Services, SCCAP, Catholic Charities, Cobleskill Regional Hospital and Veterans Affairs and she asked the village to support their efforts.
According to Ms. McGuire, DSS figures show 93 families and 238 people requested housing assistance last year with women outnumbering men 2:1.
“Imagine the number who did not register,” she said.
Other agencies served 112 people during that time, she said, with twice as many women in need.
The average homeless person spends 13 weeks in a hotel or motel, Ms. McGuire said, but with the Salvation Army and the Red Cross only able to pick up three nights, there’s a large gap to be filled.
With those statistics in mind, the coalition, which has been meeting since February, is initially looking at opening a 19-bed facility, primarily for women with or without families and intact families.
The maximum stay will be 90 days while they try to get back on their feet, Ms. McGuire said; the 19-bed cutoff comes because of increased state regulations for more beds.
“We haven’t even begun selecting the site and have no money to do it anyways,” Ms. McGuire said.
So, she said, what they’re calling The Spirit of Hope, is going to start off with a soup kitchen, the Butterfly Cafe; when they’re able to open the shelter, that will be called the Butterfly Inn.
Currently, the coalition of about 60 people is working toward not-for-profit status—and organizing the soup kitchen.
The group welcomes volunteers and donations.
For more information, contact Ms. McGuire at 234-7781 or
Donation can also be sent care of Ms. McGuire at Spirit of Hope, PO Box 208, Cobleskill, NY 12043.