HANNIBAL | The Hannibal Regional Healthcare System presented a $6,000 check donation to the Hannibal Salvation Army that will go toward combating homelessness on Monday in a press conference at Hannibal Regional Hospital.
The donation will go to assist in the efforts to finding temporary housing for the homeless and to assist patients who have been discharged from the hospital but have nowhere to go.
Hannibal Regional Healthcare System CEO Todd Ahrens said homelessness is a problem that impacts the health of the community.
“Health is never and individual sport, it's not like golf or tennis,” Ahrens said. “We are always out there looking for partners to team up with to meet various needs. Why that is important is because our mission of health isn't just curing sick people, it's also finding a way to make sure that folks are able to stay healthy.”
The Hannibal Salvation Army works with local hotels and motels in the region to provide temporary lodging, as well as offering rooms at the Quincy shelter for the homeless in the Hannibal area.
In 2019, The Salvation Army of Quincy and Hannibal provided homeless prevention services to 36 households, helped 14 families with rental assistance and another 62 households with utility assistance. Currently, they are assisting 27 households and 38 people, as the shelters are now at full capacity.
“This (donation) will help us a lot to open us up where we have some resources,” said Salvation Army family service caseworker Alex McIntosh. “It's funds that we can't get anywhere else, so it's very helpful for us to be able to have that resource in the community.”
The Salvation Army of Quincy and Hannibal assistant development director Matt Schmidt said the donation will help give the organization resources for temporary housing.
“The big thing about the homeless is when they are being discharged from the ER from the hospital, they have nowhere to go,” Schmidt said. “So they are going to work with Alex (McIntosh) to find temporary housing until they know what their permanent solution is going to be.”
Ahrens said he met with Schmidt for lunch to discuss the issues The Salvation Army of Quincy and Hannibal were facing.
“They wanted more assistance funding-wise to eliminate and prevent homelessness and we knew immediately that (eliminating) homelessness is part of what we are trying to do to improving the health of our community,” Ahrens said. “We were happy to find some money to support them knowing they do a good job in lessening homelessness.”
The Salvation Army works to eliminate barriers to housing, such as mental health, finding available housing that is affordable and the financing to pay the first month's rent and deposit.
The Salvation Army has seen a rise in demand for resources as the economy took a hit amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We originally had about 50 people that were looking for housing,” McIntosh said. “It's gone down a little bit due to social distancing and the shelters have had to limit the amount of people they take in. It just creates another barrier for clients.”
Ahrens has sit on The Salvation Army of Quincy and Hannibal's advisory board since 1997 and has worked with their leaders to help them plan on meeting their mission.
“We are always looking for other partners to try to address health issues that may not be giving someone a shot or having them hospitalized in the hospital,” Ahrens said. “So this is a good start on working on some of those issues that aren't directly related to what we do out here in the healthcare system, which is really taking care of sick folks.”
Ahrens said he also wanted to give thanks to two advisory board members who recently retired from their positions with The Salvation Army.
“We want to congratulate Majors Andy and Cheryl Miller,” Ahrens said. “They had 43 years with The Salvation Army and seven years with Quincy. We certainly want to send them a happy retirement with our best wishes.”
For ore information regarding the Hannibal Salvation Army Office of Family Services, please call McIntosh at 573-221-7072.