CALERA, Okla. (KXII) After 17 years, Pastor David Ervin said the Compassion Outreach Center is known as the church on the other side of the tracks.
Their new mission? To help people who have found themselves on the wrong side of the tracks.
"It all started with a lady that we took in ourselves that was homeless,” Ervin said. “And nobody was willing to give her a chance because she was addicted to drugs."
Two years later, Ervin said, that woman is clean and living the life God intended, as a nurse.
He said a lot more homeless people are out there, and they come to them at least once or twice a week.
"In the past we've just put them in hotels but that's costly over a period of time so we thought why not just provide a facility where we can take them in and help them get reestablished,” Ervin said.
The primary objective of the new $40,000 shelter will be to help single moms and their kids, but Ervin said they'll help anyone who needs it.
The shelter will have six private rooms, a kitchenette, living area and showers.
Guests will have to pass background checks and drug tests to be able to live there for the 90-day program. If they test positive for drugs, they can have a spot after they get clean at rehab.
“It’s not about just giving them a place to live or room and board but helping them with financial education maybe job placement and transportation to and from work,” Ervin said. “Until we can get them to a place where we can reestablish them in a permanent residence.”
Locals we talked to said the risk is worth the reward.
"Methamphetamine is bad here. It seems like it's an epidemic,” Christopher Tiffie said.
"They really don't have a place to go because of their drug habits,” Thomas Tiffie said. “Like, I’ve seen a couple living underneath an underpass."
Construction is on pause while the church works with the state fire marshal to get it up to code. They hope to have their plans approved in a couple of weeks, with construction complete in as soon as two months.
"We're going to do everything we can within our power to make sure the people we bring in are going to be safe in our environment,” Ervin said.
They're accepting donations of new clothes, household and toiletry items to offset costs.
Ervin said they will also be working with local companies to get their guests jobs.
But they can’t do that, he said, without first giving people a safe place to lay their head.
Like a woman they provided for recently.
“She said you would be surprised how nice it is to lay your head down and feel safe,” Ervin said. “She said because when you’re sleeping somewhere out there you don’t feel safe. I think that’s a great feeling to be able to provide somebody with a place to feel safe.”