Big changes are happening at Good News at Noon, the three-decades-old homeless mission and food ministry in Gainesville adjacent to the Melrose public housing complex.
“We need to renovate many things here,” said co-director Alejandro Oropeza.
But those renovations have already begun in a major way.
The men’s shelter, for example, is undergoing a complete makeover to expand capacity to serve about 20 individuals nightly.
Renovations include tearing out and replacing decrepit windows and drywall, as well as refurbishing the living and sleeping quarters, bathrooms and a kitchenette.
Oropeza said the facility had grown into a state of disrepair in recent years, and the shelter was closed about a month ago for the face-lift to begin.
Oropeza said he hopes to have the shelter reopened by mid-October, though delays in construction are always possible.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” he added.
When the shelter does reopen, Good News will implement a different intake policy for homeless men. It has typically housed up to about a dozen homeless at a time over the years, with some staying for months or even years.
When it reopens, the shelter will operate on a nightly, first-come first-serve basis typical of other homeless missions. Co-director Beth Oropeza said that Good News likely would not set a limit on the number of nights a homeless person could stay in the course of a calendar year “unless the guest becomes problematic.”
Additional renovations at Good News include a redesigned and expanded front entrance lobby area that includes a clerical room with an intake window.
Looking ahead, there is a desire to renovate the kitchen, which provides feedings seven days a week, 365 days a year. The meals are prepared, donated and served by various volunteer groups, such as churches and families.
And speaking of volunteers, Good News received a $2,400 grant last month from the North Georgia Community Foundation to support its “Helping Hands” ministry by better organizing and assisting volunteers so they can better serve the mission’s clients.
This will include automating volunteer management and tracking with a new software system.