By DENISE A. RAYMO
---- — MALONE — The annual Christmas appeal to benefit Barnabas House Homeless Shelter Services has a goal of about $51,000.
The Rev. Joe Selenski, shelter director and pastor of Lifeway Community Church, said it costs that much to operate the shelter for a year and that he hopes to make at least 70 percent of it through the appeal that will last through the Christmas holiday.
Last year’s campaign was so successful, Barnabas House was able to not only meet its expenses but pay off the debt it incurred renovating the Finney Boulevard site from the former Temple Beth El Synagogue into six private rooms, serving up to nine people a night.
He said the facility is seeing about 25 percent more people than last year and that “referrals have greatly increased, more than expected.”
Barnabas House is also helping those who struggling with a program that lets them develop new talents, including woodworking and learning to use power tools.
“This will help with their job skills and with the shelter maintenance, too,” Selenski said.
A workshop is set up in the shelter’s basement, where some of the men make chicken coops, birdhouses, doghouses and other small projects.
He said mentors volunteer their time and expertise to help the clients, and a lumberyard made an anonymous donation of wood for the projects, which will be donated in the community when they are finished.
“We were going to try to make a business out of it, but we would lose our nonprofit status, so we have to do it this way,” he said with a laugh.
The shelter hopes to partner with other agencies, such as the North Country Animal Shelter, on projects like this where, he said, everyone is a winner.
Anyone wishing to give money to the Christmas appeal may send a tax-deductible donation to Barnabas House, P.O. Box 459, Malone, NY 12967.
Email Denise A. Raymo: firstname.lastname@example.org