By Lauren Ratcliffe
Published Oct. 18, 2011
With green shovels in hand and $4.7 million raised, Crisis Ministries broke ground this morning on what will become a new homeless shelter.
The new shelter, to be built adjacent to the existing shelter at 573 Meeting St., will include a food pantry, soup kitchen and medical clinic, in addition to housing for 70 men and 40 homeless veterans once it is completed sometime in 2013. Crisis Ministries said the new building is also LEED Silver certified.
“Everybody told us we were crazy launching a capital campaign in the middle of a recession,” Crisis Ministries CEO Stacey Denaux said. “But we felt that if we waited until it was right, it would never be right.”
Crisis Ministries set out in early 2010 with a $6 million fundraising goal. Early contributions from Charleston business leaders propelled the fundraising forward.
“The business leaders who have chosen to invest recognize that the community can’t be healthy unless all of us are healthy,” Denaux said.
Among the early contributors were the McLernon family of Stealth Concealment Solutions, the Zucker family of The InterTech Group Inc., the Bakker family of Blackbaud Inc. and the Saal family of Dunne & Associates Real Estate.
Sean McLernon, CEO of Stealth Concealment Solutions, said that he was most impressed by the way Crisis Ministries ran its operation and that he knew the investment would be a sound one for his company to make.
“You only have to spend 30 seconds in that dilapidated building to know it had to be replaced in the worst way,” McLernon said.
Stealth contributed $200,000 toward the capital campaign and McLernon said the company’s board, which is made up entirely of family members, was behind the project completely.
Anita Zucker, CEO of the InterTech Group Inc., said her family’s belief in tikkun olam, a Hebrew phrase meaning “to repair the world,” led it to invest in the project.
“This is another way we can repair the world, by feeding them,” she said. “If they aren’t hungry, they can learn.”
The Zuckers’ $500,000 gift will sponsor the soup kitchen at the site.
The building is being designed by Eddie Bello with the McMillan Pazdan Smith architecture firm
Charleston Mayor Joe Riley attended the groundbreaking and spoke of his own encounters with a childhood schoolmate who found himself homeless, and spoke of the need to care for people like him.
He mentioned the city’s historic and prominent houses and said he feels proud that he can tell his grandchildren he helped build this house.
“We have prominent homes and houses in this city, and we are about to build the best one,” Riley said.
“This is a beautiful story of business leaders, philanthropists and everyday citizens giving and serving the least of us,” he said. “It’s Charleston at its best.”