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Xenia nonprofit plans to open homeless shelter at former school

New life has been granted to the former Simon Kenton Elementary School, where a Xenia-based nonprofit group is planning to open a center to help the homeless, the addicted, and the poor.

That’s the threefold mission of Bridges of Hope, a faith-based organization that plans to transform the old school building into a center where people in need can go to sleep, get food and get help in improving their lives.

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Xenia City Council unanimously approved the rezoning request on the property, and the plan is to open an emergency homeless shelter in the old gym by November, said Dan Jordan, pastor at Xenia Grace Chapel and president of Bridges of Hope.

“Bridges of Hope is a ministry hub and a service hub for Greene County,” Jordan said. “Our threefold focus is homelessness, those who have addiction issues and poverty. It is a ministry hub where there’s a lot of resources ... service institutions, churches coming together collectively ... it’s a one-stop-shop kind of deal where we can help a lot of people at a resource center for this whole area.”

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Bridges of Hope purchased the property, which includes the 39,000 square-foot building and about 12 acres of land, for $25,000 from the city.

Mike Deis, executive director, said the school building is set up with four quads, and the vision is to have an administrative area, a food cooperative, education space and a shelter.

“The whole concept behind what we’re doing is helping individuals out of whatever their situation is and staying alongside them as they try to escape, whether they are trying to escape addiction, trying to get out of a poverty situation,” Deis said. “We intend to provide services for GED education, other certificate programs, help individuals get jobs in the community and create jobs here.”

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Bridges of Hope has started fundraising with a goal to raise at least $1.5 million. That money will be used initially to address some of the larger renovation issues, such as installing fire suppression, making it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and addressing the heating and cooling system.

To donate or to find out more about Bridges of Hope, visit the website at skbridgesofhope.org, call (937) 867-HOPE or send an email to mikeskboh@gmail.com.

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