Meet Your Nonprofit - PACEM

Describe your nonprofit’s mission.
PACEM believes that a welcoming, safe place to shelter is the first step to addressing the crisis of homelessness. We believe that together, we can create a community where our homeless neighbors are not at risk of freezing to death. We bring the members of 80 congregations and community groups together each winter to address the need for shelter in our community. We share a compassion for our neighbors in crisis.

Our Mission
To bring together the faith community of the greater Charlottesville area to provide temporary shelter, compassionate support, and access to services to homeless individuals, so they can move to a stable housing solution. This work can only be achieved by forging partnerships in the larger community.

What need in our community brought about the creation of your nonprofit?
When the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless (TJACH) conducted the 2004 Homeless Census, the results indicated that in the middle of winter dozens of individuals were living in the streets, in the woods, in their cars, in abandoned buildings, behind garbage dumpsters, or around churches. The census supported the idea of the downtown clergy. There was a pressing need to shelter individuals who could not access existing programs.

How has your nonprofit made a difference in our community?
When PACEM opened its shelters in 2004, surveys conducted by the Thomas Jefferson Coalition for the Homeless indicated that 23% of individuals who were homeless were unsheltered. In January of 2015, 13.5% of individuals that were homeless were unsheltered. PACEM has been credited with helping reduce the overall homeless poplutation and shelter those who can not shelter themselves.

PACEM’s shelters open in late October and remain open until the end of March. Our shelter season spans the time of year when the risk of freezing to death is real for those sleeping on the streets. Our shelters host as many as 45 men and 20 women each night.

PACEM’s shelters are “Last Resort,” a place to go when you’re seeking shelter and have no other options. However, our work doesn’t stop there. We provide Case Management and referrals to other partner organizations in Charlottesville and beyond. As a result, 69 adults moved forward from our shelters into permanent housing solutions during the 2015-16 winter, moving into homes in assisted living facilities, nursing homes, public housing, or private apartments.

How can community members help you achieve your mission?
Contributing to PACEM’s shelters may be the least expensive way to help address homelessness in our community.

Individuals who stay at PACEM do not have other choices for shelter. Their alternatives are a night in jail, which costs approximately $75 a night, or an emergency room visit, which costs much, much more than a night at PACEM. Congregations donate their time, space, and meals, as a result PACEM spends about $35 a night to house, feed, and monitor each of our guests. Financial gifts are always needed to provide transportation, staff our shelters and provide Case Management.

In addition to monetary donations, there are opportunities to Partner with hosts to provide meals, activities, set up and moving assistance.

Tell us a story that has come out of your work.
John came to us before the shelter season to do an early intake, he was sleeping under the bridge. While answering questions he broke down with tears streaming down his face. His mother had passed away in late August in a drowning accident. He had been staying with her since she wanted someone around in the evenings. Once she passed away he lost their apartment and then his job. We talked about grief, his current situation and how to move forward.

In the following weeks John became a regular visitor and shelter guest. He began working with Workforce and looking through Indeed employment listings with me. John applied to several jobs and interviewed at several places. Last week John came to me very excited. He got hired by Klockner Pentaplast and hopes to begin work soon as a Mechanic. He will have health insurance, 401K plan, and a salary that will sustain him. John is still grieving the loss of his mother but he has hope and a plan to move forward. He couldn’t have done this on the streets sleeping under the bridge.

Learn more about PACEM

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