By Angelo Perry, Cordova High School
Thirteen dollars an hour.
That’s what the average Bowling Green resident needs to earn to afford an apartment by Rhondell Miller’s calculation. The director of HOTEL INC. works with those who live on that narrow margin.
HOTEL INC. is a faith-based nonprofit that provides Warren County residents with pathways to stable housing. The organization has many programs that help homeless individuals, including a drop-in center to take a shower and access to a phone and washers.
This program aims to help people get a job by making the homeless have a more professional appearance. HOTEL INC. services include a Manna Mart, a local food pantry, to provide nutritionally balanced foods and gives the clients a list of foods to practice real food shopping.
Based on the number of people in a client’s household, volunteers assist in gathering, packaging meals and educating households on the experience of financially smart and healthy grocery shopping.
Manna Mart also offers detergent, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, soap, shaving cream, razors and toilet paper, according to the HOTEL INC. website.
HOTEL INC. served 963 people last year — 235 of them children, Miller said. The program is supported by donations and volunteers.
HOTEL INC. connects homeless people with partners who specialize in specific areas. Victims of domestic violence, for example, are referred to the Barren River Area Safe Space. BRASS provides housing and counseling for victims of domestic abuse. HOTEL INC. also provides financial assistance for rental and medical needs.
“Well, I believe that we continue to see different variables of times of the year when homelessness population increases,” Miller said.
HOTEL INC. provides a safe place where the homeless can express themselves and talk through the issues that may be causing their problems. Some of the common issues are relationship changes, unemployment, substance abuse and mental illness.
They offer “Life Classes” for people who need to earn their GED or learn skills such as cooking.
HOTEL INC. has six staff members and an average of 175 volunteers a year, Miller said.
Mary Adams, a WKU student who frequently volunteers at HOTEL INC., said she had learned many things concerning homelessness and poverty in the Bowling Green area. Her motivation came from a friend who formerly volunteered at HOTEL INC. Volunteering at the organization interested Adams and she learned about the homeless community in a class at WKU.
While volunteering, she worked at Manna Mart. Every week she helped clients pick items from a list, so the clients get what they need, Adams said.
Adams recalled helping one man who was homeless and unable to carry the number of bags he was provided. Adams adapted to the situation and assisted the man. This moment stuck with her for each of the following times she visits HOTEL INC.
One simple action opened her eyes to the real world and helped her notice “how real homelessness is,” Adams said.