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A home for the homelessPosted Saturday, December 10, 2011, at 7:51 AM
This is the old Delta, MO Elementary School, located 4 miles northwest of the town on N Highway. Thanks to area voters, the Delta school district was recently able to build a new elementary school in town next to the high school. The facility has now been converted into a homeless shelter called the AMEN Center.
Last Sunday, our church newsletter contained a brief message about a homeless shelter called the "AMEN Center," located in Delta, Mo. I had never heard of it, but on Tuesday, my traveling buddy and I went out for a look.
The center is located in the old, recently-vacated Delta Elementary school, which is still in good condition. Though it's hard to believe, the building is located four miles from town! My friend thought we were lost...
Danny Hollowell is the mission director of the center, which has been open since September. To find him, we walked down the long halls, past a small Christmas tree and a sign advertising a Dec. 17 Christmas play. Several sofas and end tables with lamps dotted the long halls, a rather unusual sight in a school building. Inspirational Bible verses have been painted on the walls, so we knew we were in the right place.
We followed the sound of voices down a long hall, past a room labeled "Clothing Store" and then turned down another hall, leading to the lunch room, where we found a cheerful lady washing some dishes. She said she was a resident.
"My husband and our four children lived in Oran, until he lost his job, and our landlord refused to fix the hole in the ceiling of our home," she said. "We thank God for this place! My husband got a job yesterday. The AMEN Center has given him back his faith!"
Danny Hollowell, the director, was in the process of thanking two men from the Chaffee Fire Department, who had donated the food left over from their Christmas party. One of them, the fire chief, was promising support from his church in Chaffee.
Hollowell explains that support is coming in from several directions. The church at Allenville donated a van, which he uses to transport residents to Sunday morning church services around the area.
The old elementary gym has been converted into a worship center; several rows of folding chairs form a semi-circle in front of the preacher's pulpit on the stage. Between the pulpit and the chairs is a beautiful wooden altar for prayer. In a back corner stands a brightly-decorated Christmas tree, which must be 15-20 feet tall.
"Two ladies from Poplar Bluff donated that tree," explained Shirley Hollowell, Danny's wife.
The Hollowells have a Poplar Bluff connection.
Hollowell credits his decision to open a homeless shelter to Rev. Ronnie Webb of the Powerhouse Church in Poplar Bluff.
"He pointed to me out of the congregation," said Hollowell. "I'm just one of God's people, but I feel that this is something the Lord wants me to do."
Hollowell, an ordained preacher himself, conducts services several times a week at the AMEN Center and is proud that they have seen 21 conversions in the nine weeks that the center has been open.
In addition to spiritual aid, the center offers transportation to job interviews and on-the-job training through the carpentry work which Hollowell finds in the surrounding community. He recently brought two young men with him to do some work for the Methodist Church in Advance. They will also do yard work and other odd jobs.
"They were very polite and well-mannered," said the church secretary. "We were so pleased with them that I hired them to do some work at my house."
An important requirement for staying at the center is that residents must look for a job.
At the current time, there are 38 residents, though the center can accommodate 100. Twenty rooms have been converted into bedrooms. Residents can stay 3 months, 6 months, 9 months or a year.
Donations can be sent to AMEN Center, P.O. Box 159, Delta, Mo. 63744. The facility is located on N Highway, four miles northwest of Delta in the old Mary Maud Hosea Elementary School. Phone 573-794-2900 or checkout on the web at www.amencenter.org
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.