Homeless shelter provides a safe haven

Jessica Roblin

Think of the minimum wage job you drag your feet to every day. Now think of losing that job – your

only source of income and stability.

At 25, Jennifer Hannan felt that dreadful sense of loss late this September when she lost her position at McDonald’s. After her landlord gave her an extra month to find a job, she had no luck and no family to turn to.

“Sometimes tough love is better than no love at all,” she said.

Still, she wasn’t alone. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio ranked 41 of 50 with a 9.9 percent unemployment rate (with 50 being the worst rank).

As the holidays grow closer, more jobless families and individuals seek shelter away from the harsh winter. Miller Community House provided shelter for Hannan when she went searching for refuge

from her drug-ridden, jobless circumstance. The shelter houses 22 individuals, program coordinator Donnie Atherton said.

“If it was up to Donnie, I think Donnie would bring in more people,” said Hannan. “He’s just that kind of guy. He has a heart of gold.”

With three rooms–one for females, one for males and one for families–it can only house so many

people in need. The faces coming and going from the shelter change often because, as an emergency

shelter, it houses people from 30 to 90 days at a time.

At any point in the year, donations are essential, but the holidays are especially difficult for the


“It does get particularly bad,” Atherton said. “This is a shelter; therefore, we depend on donations quite a bit.”

This is why he is grateful for help from the locals. People will drop off entire meals or give a turkey to Miller Community House, he said. Outsiders are also how “wish list” items become reality for shelter members.

“They [churches and Miller Community House] try to do the best that they can and get the good things

on our wish list,” Hannan said. Winter boots are on her list.

She has many more wishes on her life list. This includes earning her GED and going to culinary arts


About three months after her first call to Miller Community House, she received a different call – one approving her finances for her own apartment. It’s the first step into her new life and new home.

“I’m proud to stand up and say this is where I’m at,” Hannan said about the Miller Community House, “and I’m bettering my life.”