New Start for Lamar Compassion Center

John Maxwell, a volunteer at the Compassion Center on West Olive Street in Lamar has become the interim director. Maxwell met with the Prowers County Commissioners, Thursday, April 21, to introduce himself, layout immediate plans for the shelter and request assistance with funding for the organization. The Center, which serves six southeast counties, and has gone through some ups and downs over the past decade-plus.

For several years, the IRS has poured over the Center’s books and found them wanting. The IRS has been owed back taxes, with several groups attempting to clear the records and start with a clean slate. Maxwell said he’ll meet with the Ministerial Alliance on May 11 for their input, has started a top to bottom house cleaning of the Center at 710 West Olive and is starting over with little or no funding. He volunteered to the commissioners that if each of the 32 churches in town could contribute $25 a week, it would him with initial financing. “I’d welcome any sum they can afford right now either by the week or month to help,” he added. He hopes to see some funding come from a multi-church bake sale, set for April 30 at Thriftway. The house and property is owned by Martha Peery who developed the center years ago. Maxwell said he was given the keys to the house by former director Carlita Schwartz who ended her affiliation with the Center. Maxwell said he has no board of directors at this point, but is being helped with the reorganization by local attorney Mark Davis. He’d like a new name for the center and says he’ll need a new tax ID number for licensing purposes and for the IRS. He told the commissioners he’s currently receiving limited food donations from some of the local restaurants, but wants to begin a new funding and grant process.

Commissioner Gene Millbrand said the county financially assisted the Center three or four years ago, but the staff developed the same financial problems they had earlier. Millbrand suggested Maxwell contact the county Department of Social Services to inquire about the next best steps to take on developing a grant.

Past directors stated the Lamar center’s finances get an extra strain because it’s the next inexpensive destination from other centers. They’ve claimed the homeless are usually given bus tickets for Lamar from centers in Texas, Kansas or Colorado, and once in town, depend on the Lamar Center for their help. Maxwell said he’d update the commissioners on his progress in several weeks.

Filed Under: CommissionerscommunityLamar


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