The Ashland Beacon
Saturday morning, the Shelter of Hope presented its first pickleball tournament at the tennis courts at Central Park. Director Debbie Sivis was trying to steer away from the traditional fundraisers like 5K runs and golf scrambles; they wanted to do something different.
Shelter of Hope employee, Sonja Ahuja was able to connect with the Ashland Pickleball Club to help with the tournament. Sivis said that they were lucky to get them on their side because “we had no idea where to start.” Pickleball has gained a large following in Ashland, and the Shelter of Hope had 39 people sign up for this first tournament.
The Shelter of Hope board began planning the tournament in May, so Head Chairperson, Janice Dowdy, said that they were kind of in a rush to get their sponsors and get everything lined out. Dowdy feels like they had a really good turnout for their first year, although it was difficult to find a date that there were not other fundraisers going on. Sivis said that they work with all of the other nonprofit agencies and they all try to “not step on each others toes” when it comes to planning fundraising events. Because the agency gets funds from the United Way, they are unable to plan any fundraisers during the fall when the United Way is doing their own fundraising campaign.
The Shelter of Hope provides emergency and transitional housing for the homeless population of Ashland. They help people get into more permanent housing, then provide case management services, budgeting, and other services to “help them gain the tools they need to stay in housing” according to Sivis. All of their admissions are referrals from the CARES program where initial assessments are done. They have a limited number of apartments that are then given as temporary homes to those that are most in need as opposed to first come, first served which was the way that it was originally done.
The Shelter of Hope also covers rent deposits and utility deposits. They will assist with utility bills and other expenses that come with moving into a new home. Sivis says that right now, the Shelter of Hope has managed to house approximately 87 percent of those that have come through their program with almost 50 percent of those being able to increase their income during their time with the program.
Sivis said that the Shelter of Hope funds can only be used to help those who are homeless. They direct people to the Salvation Army shelter first because they can get in there more quickly. Once they are established as homeless, they are able to step in and help them get housing. One of the requirements of living in the shelter is that the children go to school. They cannot be home-schooled.
According to Sivis, the biggest obstacle they face is that there is just not enough affordable housing in the area. They have an especially hard time finding housing for single individuals.
The money raised from the pickleball tournament, as well as the other fundraisers, goes toward the cost of housing and supportive case management. Sivis says that the goal is always to help them work their way off public assistance. She says that although there are people who will never be able to stay in housing without the supportive case management, most will get to a point of no longer need help. She stated that most will “get to the point where they are contributing to the community.” They just need “the right opportunities.”