A small crowd gathered in the dining hall of the Salvation Army of Jefferson City's Center of Hope to reflect on 20 years the facility has served the community.
Major Jack Holloway, the Salvation Army's business administrator for the area, which includes Columbia and Jefferson City, said the organization has held a shelter in the Jefferson City community for about 80 years — in different settings.
As part of Salvation Army Week — a national recognition of the organization and its work — it wanted to point out the work the facility has done for the past 20 years.
He said the proclamation Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin read during the Wednesday afternoon event helped recognize the important work done at the site.
"In this particular building, we have a 31-bed shelter, but also, our social services for the community are here," Holloway said. "We're serving several hundred families every month. It's very significant."
Tergin's proclamation recognized the Salvation Army's ministry is motivated by the love of God. She said its founder, William Booth, in 1865 wanted to lead the poor, homeless, hungry and destitute to Christ.
"The Jefferson City Salvation Army has always sought to serve the lost and the least, beginning in the 1920s, with women's groups who went out to community homes to clean, do laundry, feed children or take care of the sick," she said.
During the event, Salvation Army leadership conducted educational tours of the center, served refreshments and engaged in conversations about the facility.
Built 20 years ago, the facility serves as a shelter, kitchen and pantry, and site for social service and housing programs.
It has provided 256,000 "bed nights" (when a person is sheltered in the center overnight), and 680,000 meals.
However, that constant use is taking a toll on the facility.
Holloway said the Salvation Army is looking at a funding source that could help do modifications and repairs to the building.
Staff members serve thousands of meals in the building every year. Meals are provided, not only for people staying in the shelter, but for those who need them and walk in. In 2017, staff served 26,000 meals to people in the community.
They serve three meals a day, seven days a week.
"The building needs some attention — repairs. A lot of it is just simple repairs the building needs from use," Holloway said. "We're looking at a couple of different potential things down the road."
Far down the road, staff would like to begin a capital campaign. A long-term goal would be to add family rooms.
However, for now, they want to find sources of revenue that can help with simple repairs.
"The building needs a new HVAC system. It needs new heating and cooling, electrical work and a sprinkler system," Holloway said. "They are all original to the building, and they are definitely starting to show their age."
Although it eventually turned "very old," the shelter the Salvation Army of Jefferson City had before the Center of Hope "served its purpose for years," said Melody Freeman, a business administrator for the Salvation Army.
Since it was built, the existing shelter has served the community as well, she said.
"This open house is nice in that we're long-time participants in Jefferson City," Freeman said. "It serves as a chance to say 'thank you' again to the community."