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Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gives grant to First Stop

MADISON, HUNTSVILLE – A significant grant from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will provide kitchen equipment and office furniture for First Stop’s new facility.

“First Stop’s mission is to encounter the homeless where they are, connect them to critical services and support and empower them toward independent, sustainable living,” Jennifer Geist said. Geist is Executive Director of First Stop.

“By focusing on helping to transform lives, we assist unsheltered, homeless individuals become stable and live self-sufficient lives,” Geist said.

First Stop, Inc. continues to meet the needs of the growing homeless community in Huntsville by creating long-term solutions. The staff’s efforts soon will expand as they more than double their capacity with their newly constructed and expanded facility.

First Stop’s new building is located at 206 Stokes St. in Huntsville. The estimated construction completion is September 2023, when the staff will resume services with expanded and improved resources.

“Huntsville’s homeless population has risen by 29.5 percent over the last five years,” Charity Stratton said. Stratton serves as Communication Director for the Church of Jesus Christ, Madison Stake.

“With their new building construction and expansion, First Stop will go from 3,686 square feet to 9,498 square feet, doubling their laundry capacity, tripling their showers, adding indoor dining for 120 people, increasing enrichment classrooms and creating on-site medical and mental health clinics for partner agencies,” Stratton said.

In addition, the construction will create more space for Outreach and Case Management offices, which will allow First Stop to more than double their direct-care staff.

“First Stop has been a valuable resource for local clergy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as they have ministered to transitory members of local congregations, as well as those that deal with homelessness,” Stratton said. “Church leaders have been looking for ways to support First Stop and the good work that they do, which culminated in this donation.”

“In the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus teaches us that loving our neighbor is not an abstract action from afar but rather through compassionate service in a time of need and genuinely giving of ourselves,” Kuenn Drake said. Drake is a regional leader for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and President of the Madison Stake.

“First Stop is a ‘Good Samaritan’ organization. Our hope is that this donation will assist them in their mission of serving and embracing ‘neighbors’ in our community,” Drake said.

Along with funding from federal grants, several organizations partnered with First Stop to fund and support this construction and expansion project. These organizations include the City of Huntsville, Community Development Department of Huntsville, WellStone, Thrive Alabama, Huntsville Hospital Mobile Medical Unit, R.O.S.S., Episcopal Church of the Nativity and ShowerUp Huntsville, Assistant Communication Director Shana Ryan said.

“This generous gift from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will allow us to purchase kitchen equipment, dining tables and office furnishings for our new facility, scheduled to open in fall 2023,” Geist said.

Officials have scheduled a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new building this fall.

For more information, visit firststop.org.

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