By Staff Reports
Beverly, Mass. ” River House, the Beverly area’s shelter for homeless men, reopened this past Monday, Oct. 1, with a renewed focus on helping guests find jobs, health care and permanent homes.
River House will now serve 22-34 men each night. Guests will be welcome to stay at River House for a limited time as they work to return to lives of self-sufficiency. Each guest will work one-on-one with a case manager to craft an action plan that targets goals related to income, health care, and finding a permanent home.
It’s a new day for River House, said Kate Benashski, executive director. We are now better equipped than ever to help homeless men turn their lives around. she added.
Volunteers and staff have been hard at work getting ready for the reopening. Improvements include a fresh coat of paint on the exterior, as well as a privacy fence. Inside, there are new appliances, flooring, bunks, and lockers.
River House had closed temporarily on April 30 due to a cash crunch, and the board and staff spent the summer seeking stable funding and retooling the shelter’s programs for homeless men.
The reopening of the shelter was made possible because of broad community support and an infusion of cash. Thanks to the work of retiring state Sen. Frederick Berry, River House was included in the state budget’s line item for homeless shelters. This new $200,000 in state funding provides a stable base for River House, which runs on a lean annual budget of $350,000.
A considerable portion of the nonprofit’s budget relies on donations from individuals, foundations and other entities. Its annual fundraising campaign recently received a huge boost from Manchester-by-the-Sea philanthropist Ralph Bates, who committed $100,000, including a challenge grant to match new donations dollar for dollar up to a total of $25,000. In addition, the city of Beverly has committed $20,000 to support the shelter this year.
We are profoundly grateful to Sen. Berry for securing this funding, said Benashski. And the response from the community has been phenomenal. Donors, both large and small, make such a huge difference to the future of River House and the men it serves.
In addition to the boost in funding, the shelter has also has a new fiscal agent. On May 1, Harborlight Community Partners, a regional affordable-housing nonprofit headquartered in Beverly, became the fiscal agent for River House.