"The Phoenix" comes to life

By Gary Brode | gbrode@wcia.com, Anna Carrera

Published 05/01 2014 04:28PM

Updated 08/19 2014 10:21AM

Latest: 10:13 pm, 8/18/14, Monday
CHAMPAIGN -- A new homeless shelter downtown opened its doors Monday. There was a ribbon cutting for the Phoenix Daytime Drop-in Center.

The building is for all ages. It's a place homeless people can go to have somewhere warm to rest, spend time on the computer or have an artistic outlet. Others in the community are invited on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to spend time with homeless people.

Director Melany Jackson says, "It's our calling to reach out and to help them actually right where they are; that's what the Phoenix is about. Inviting them into a space where they aren't going to be judged. Maybe have someone listen to them, tell their story. There's a lot of power in telling your story and have someone truly listen to you."

Most of the money for the shelter came from "One Winter Night."
Latest: 4:03 pm, 6/17/14, Tuesday
CHAMPAIGN -- A new daytime drop-in center is set to open mid-August. Volunteers are cleaning up "the Phoenix." It's a major project for CU at Home. So much so, the executive directors says they've canceled the One Summer Day fundraiser since not enough people signed up for it.

Organizers plan to put together a different fundraiser to go along with the center's opening. Volunteers say it's great to see the building come together.

If you want to get involved and volunteer with CU at Home, click here.
Update: 5:20 pm, 5/7/14, Wednesday
CHAMPAIGN -- A new facility will open its doors downtown for people living on the streets. Melany Jackson, with C-U at Home, joins us to talk about the daytime drop-in center.

For more information, click here.
Original: 4:28 pm, 5/1/14, Thursday
CHAMPAIGN -- There's a new home for the homeless downtown. Melany Jackson, executive director for C-U at Home, signed the lease Thursday. This will be a new daytime drop-in center. Jackson says the location is perfect. It's just a block away from the soup kitchen and the Illinois Terminal.

Jackson says she's handed out a lot of keys while working with C-U at Home, so that makes this extra special. It used to be a bar called The Phoenix. Jackson says even the name seems to fit the purpose for the shelter.

"Rising up out of the ashes: that's what the legend of the Phoenix bird is about," said Jackson. "Our hope is to help people from the street rise up from their situation into restoration."

Jackson says they plan to put some tables and chairs in, plus make space for offices since workers and volunteer from C-U at Home will move in as well. Jackson wants to make it a place where the homeless feel ownership, so she'll ask them to help clean, decorate and do maintenance. She also wants to bring in art projects and musical instruments as creative outlets.

There's still some work to do before it's ready to open, but Jackson hopes to have it done around June. The lease is just for a year, but she says this is just the beginning for them.

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