There has been a lot of anticipation when it was announced that the former Sheltered Hearts of Hathian Homeless Shelter was going to be re-opened. This reporter ran into Cat Mason, Business owner and Council Woman, and was able to sit down with her over some pizza at her establishment The Pie Hole. The following is the interview that transpired.
Me: Miss Mason, what made you want to re-open Sheltered Hearts? It’s been gone for well over a year from Hathian.
Mason: Well I saw a need. It never sat well with me when the old shelter closed. There is a real need here in Hathian. I see it every day at The Pie Hole. Daily we get people right off the bus that come in and want to know where to go. They don’t have two dimes to rub together and just need a helping hand to get things going in town. Not everyone can afford a motel. Weekly rates have steadily increased over the past year as the town populace has grown.
Me: I heard Miss Mason that you were once homeless. Is that true?
Mason: That’s true. I was homeless for two years. I slept in many different places. When the shelter opened it was a godsend for me. It’s not safe out there in the streets. I can’t tell you how many times I had been robbed. I volunteered for the shelter and helped others turn the corner. It was during that time I found that I liked helping people and I got food on a regular basis, a clean bed and a shower when I needed it. I paid it back by volunteering there. After a time there is when I took a job at The Pie Hole and worked my way up to running the place.
Me: Did you run into any red tape along the way or obstacles?
Mason: Yes I sure did. I wasn’t aware of all the codes and the regulations involved. Also, all the permits and the like. Since I am on the City Council I worked with Aizlynne Argeneau, another Council Member to obtain the proper approvals and permits. The council supports the project and I am grateful for that. It’s time to give back to the community again.
Me: You seem quite passionate about this endeavor. Can you let the readers know some of the programs and services the shelter will provide?
Mason: I am passionate. I know how it feels to be homeless and I am certain this will fill a void that Hathian has had since the closure of the original shelter. We will provide Soup, sandwiches and fruit at lunch and dinner times. On off times, we do have vending at a reduced cost for sandwiches and fruit. There are lockers that can be checked out with identification to store their belongings. That is one of the perks because most homeless people carry with them everything they own. Keeping up with it can be cumbersome. Now they have a place to store it without carrying it around all the time. We have beds on a first come, first serve basis and a shower for clean up. We will help with employment and provide direction with any needs they have. It is our hope to work with HGH and come up with a program that will allow doctors or nurses to come and provide basic medical care. We would also like to partner with law firms for legal advice and such. We also hope to partner with the Veterans Food Bank of Hathian.
Me: Wow! Sounds like a lot of plans. I can’t you how refreshing it is to find someone that wants to give back to the community and not make a buck on it. I wish you all the luck Miss Mason.
Mason: Thank you Maci. We are always looking for Volunteers. We are located two blocks from Central Hathian in District 8. People just need to come and click on the volunteer sign and join us and give back!
The pizza was great but it was also great to talk to someone that cares about people and wants to do something about it. In Louisiana, 28% of the population is homeless. That is one-quarter of the population. Medical care, nutrition, and job training are some of the issues the homeless encounter. Perhaps Miss Mason can work with local businesses to help with the job training and resources. This reporter can see nothing but good things from the opening of the Shelter. We wish her luck!
Interested in Volunteering, head on down to District 8 (http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/District%208/112/74/35 ) and sign up. The shelter is a non-profit organization that runs on donations, gifts, fundraisers and grants.