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Dover Interfaith Mission needs volunteers to open new resource center

The vacant commercial building purchased by Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing on Division St. in Dover.
Paul Kiefer
Delaware Public Media
Dover Interfaith plans to convert a vacant commercial building on Division St. into affordable apartments.

A new resource center for people experiencing homelessness is expected to open this month, but Dover Interfaith Mission needs volunteers to get it up and running.

Executive Director Karen Rowland says they lost around 90 percent of their volunteers when the pandemic began, and few have returned.

“But I need the help of the community to make this happen," Rowland says. "We need people to come and volunteer so that people can use the center. We can’t afford to pay someone the hours that we would need, but it would be nice for the community to come out and support us so that we can come to a date.”

Rowland says they have the space and resources to offer evening and weekend hours as well, but volunteers are essential to make their plans a reality.

“We have a lot of our clients who appear fine because they go to work during the day, and then return to sleep in the woods in the evening," Rowland says. "We want to make sure that they have a shower, that they have a warm sleeping bag.”

Dover Interfaith Mission bought the property at 630 West Division Street in February and started moving in March. Rowland says they are anticipating opening by mid-October, with all the same services and more.

“Before, we were offering laundry services, so we’ll still be doing that," Rowland says. "We’ll still be a place where people can have showers during the day, we’ll be a place where they can get a meal, where they can get access to be on permanent housing lists, case management.”

She adds they’ll also have a medical provider for uninsured people, an opioid clinic, clinics for flu and COVID, job training, and phone and email services.

The organization is using $5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to renovate about 19,000 square feet of the 56,000 square-foot building for around 30 permanent housing units, which Rowland says should be completed in 2025.

Rachel Sawicki was born and raised in Camden, Delaware and attended the Caesar Rodney School District. They graduated from the University of Delaware in 2021 with a double degree in Communications and English and as a leader in the Student Television Network, WVUD and The Review.