SALT Center Celebrates First Anniversary | News, Sports, Jobs

SALT Center Celebrates First Anniversary | News, Sports, Jobs

-Messenger photo by John McBride

First Baptist Church of Fort Dodge hosted an open house to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the SALT Center at the church, where attendees enjoyed games, a tour of the building and refreshments before a ribbon-cutting ceremony by the Greater Growth Alliance.

As we celebrate our first anniversary, the SALT Center at First Baptist Church of Fort Dodge has grown and expanded beyond its original mission.

The opening of the SALT Centre last year was made possible by offering cooling and heating to anyone in need during extreme weather events.

A year later, the center has evolved into a resource for those in need of assistance with a variety of issues, including housing assistance, food assistance, addiction treatment, and, importantly, continues to be a place for anyone who needs shelter from extreme heat or cold.

SALT stands for Shining a Light Together, and Pastor Dani Roger of First Baptist Church said that is reflected in the community’s support as the SALT Center’s mission has evolved and expanded.

“We don’t do this alone” she said. “We’ve seen our community come together. We’ve had people say, ‘Maybe we can’t help directly, but you can and we will help you. We couldn’t do what we do without our community. We can’t express how grateful we are for all the donations.'”

-Messenger photo by John McBride

Pastor Dani Rogers of First Baptist Church in Fort Dodge and members of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance cut a ribbon to honor the SALT Center, which the church founded last year. The center celebrated its first anniversary Wednesday with an open house and ribbon-cutting.

On Wednesday, the SALT Center held an open house with tours of the center, refreshments, games and testimonials from those helped. The center also held a ribbon-cutting with the Greater Growth Alliance and received a $500 donation from St. Olaf Lutheran Church.

The center, which the church calls the Warming and Cooling Drop Inn, is located in a church at 28 North 10th Street in Fort Dodge. It is staffed entirely by volunteers. Rogers said at Wednesday’s event that more than 70 people have volunteered in its first year.

Since opening in July last year, the SALT center has served more than 2,000 people. The busiest period was March through May this year, when 602 people received some form of assistance.

“Probably 80 percent of our demographic has been identified as homeless.” said Rogers. “But not always homeless in the sense that they were living on the street. These were people who were maybe couchsurfing, living with different people or staying with friends. But we also helped low-income people, seniors and families.”

The SALT Center now offers a range of services to help people get back on their feet. These services include assistance with applying for housing, Medicaid, food stamps or job applications. The center also helps with scheduling mental and physical health appointments and obtaining IDs, birth certificates and Social Security cards.

-Messenger photo by John McBride

Rev. Dani Rogers of First Baptist Church, left, received a $500 donation from St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Fort Dodge on Wednesday on the SALT Center’s one-year anniversary. Rogers accepted the donation from St. Olaf’s vicar, the Rev. Jim McColley, and the pastor, the Rev. Emily Sauer.

They also offer hygiene products, clothing and household items for homeless people moving to a new place to live.

According to Rogers, First Baptist has been collecting clothing for those in need for almost 40 years.

The SALT Center will soon offer a space for anyone who doesn’t have a place to shower. The center currently has a contract with the REC Center to provide showers, but Rogers said the SALT Center is finishing up a shower for people to use. They also hope to add a washer and dryer to the facility.

The centre is currently open Monday to Friday from 1pm to 4pm and is open all year round, not just during bad weather.

Rogers said the center offers people a place to come and relax, read books or get help with the services offered. However, she said there are no televisions or radios, which is intentional.

“Part of our mission is to build relationships” she said. “Once we establish those relationships, we can start asking the hard questions about how the person got to their situation and we can help them make changes.”

Rogers said that based on admissions statistics for this year, most of those helped are from Fort Dodge and Webster County. She said only 10 of the people helped were from outside the local community.

“We have become a much bigger operation than we anticipated when we opened” said Rogers. “We’ve had so much positive feedback from people. I’m absolutely grateful that we can shine our light together.”

Rogers said the SALT Center’s biggest need right now is monetary donations. The center costs about $125 a day to operate. Anyone who wants to donate can visit the Fort Dodge Community Foundation website and donate to the SALT Center. Donations of needed items can be brought to the church. Volunteers can contact Rogers at the church. His phone number is 515-573-3517 and his email address is [email protected].

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