Light Bringers seek site for drop-in shelter
After helping the homeless on the West Side for more than 20 years, Victor Bellarosa is pursuing a solution.
The longtime volunteer with the Light Bringers Rescue Mission is amid a grassroots effort to establish a drop-in shelter.
He envisions 20-25 beds in a donated space for homeless residents that don’t qualify for rehabilitation programs currently offered on Maui.
The facility would be a place for the homeless to eat meals, take showers, sleep overnight, complete paperwork for identification and referral to services, and receive counseling, Bellarosa said.
Light Bringers — which began in 1990 with weekly coffee and donuts meetings with around 20 homeless residents — is based in volunteerism, not bureaucracy.
They don’t want the strict shelter rules that keep the “hardcore homeless” on the streets.
Light Bringers will ask its clients to offer input on the shelter and its services.
He will tell them, “It’s your shelter — what do you want us to do?”
Bellarosa also prefers working with volunteers, as the Christian charity can’t afford to pay an executive director and administrators.
He feels the growth in Maui’s homeless population shows that shelters can’t serve an element of the needy.
“There are more homeless still here in Maui now in 2011. Even with full facility shelters here on the West Side and throughout Maui, a critical extent still grows in homelessness,” said Bellarosa.
“Light Bringers, with more than 20 years of experience of reaching out to the homeless, is concentrating on the answer to this critical growth. That answer is the drop-in shelter and how it differs from a full facility shelter,” he continued.
“The key to a drop-in shelter is its first line of defense: emergency aid.”
Some clients need to secure birth certificates and identification before they can enter services or apply for Supplemental Security Income, he noted.
The Light Bringers’ center could be a first step for clients.
“How does it differ from a full facility shelter operation? It differs much the same as the ambulance or first aid station differs from the hospital, both in scope and in cost,” Bellarosa explained.
“This concept is vital, and Light Bringers is continuing to network with the community and the homeless to see a drop-in shelter become a reality.”
To reach Bellarosa, call 661-1934.