Donor gives hand to daytime center for LR's homeless

The interior of Little Rock's day services center has a fresh look thanks to a privately-funded remodeling project.

Renovations including new carpet in the meeting room and new showers and cabinetry in the bathrooms at Jericho Way Day Resource Center were completed earlier in May.

The work was designed and paid for by local real estate developer John Flake, who said he saw there was a need for resources for the homeless while working downtown most of his life.

"The organization has really little or no source of funds, and yet if you think about it, caring for the day homeless is so important," Flake said. "Because these people have nowhere to go, and so that's something that really captured my heart."

Construction firm Baldwin and Shell Construction Co. did the work at cost, Flake said.

"Jericho Way can always use volunteers, and I'm not talking about just people who want to give dollars but people that are willing to give their time and their talents to helping the homeless," he said.

About 130 individuals visit the center each day, receiving meals, showers and social services.

The cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock share in contributing funding for the center, which is run by the national nonprofit Depaul USA.

Mandy Davis, the center's director, said she was excited about the remodeling. She said she got to know Flake when he volunteered in the Jericho Way kitchen, and that he asks what he can do to help every several months.

She said having pro bono work done for capital projects at the shelter is helpful, since the center must be strategic in what it requests public funding or seeks grants for.

"It's nice to just get it done," she said. "It was really a treat."

She added that the high-use areas of the facility getting a facelift can help break down negative stereotypes about individuals experiencing homelessness and help social service workers better connect with them.

"I'm always really hypersensitive to being a nice place," she said. "A lot of times these small things help us build hope and rapport for people before we start working their cases. They're really, really huge in creating a culture of service."

Davis said the number of people using the center for showers, laundry and meals is trending upward amid the covid-19 pandemic. At the beginning of the outbreak, about 20 to 30 people would come in for showers each day. Now it's about 40.

The center is providing services with limited access inside the building.

Metro on 06/01/2020