The Religious Coalition for Community Renewal (RCCR) operates the Samaritan Inn, a stately mansion located in downtown Charleston WV. The Samaritan Inn, established in 1989, is a residential recovery program with supportive services for up to 12 adult men at a time. Men may stay for up to 18 months. The average stay is around 11 months.
Samaritan Inn has helped over 800 men recovery from addiction and homelessness to independent living.
· A safe environment to recover from homelessness and addiction.
· Services that permanently change the lives of men who have been homeless.
In 1984 the “Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness” was struggling to find a solution to what was believed to be a solvable problem of homelessness in Charleston. It became clear that there was not one solution, but that it would take a variety of approaches to adequately meet the needs of our fellow citizens. Some of these were already in place: Covenant House, Manna Meals, Sojourners Shelter for Women and Families, the new Men’s Shelter and the Union Mission. Each of these agencies gave excellent cooperation to the Religious Coalition for Community Renewal, Inc., the new kid on the social services block.
The Mayor’s Task Force was guided by the findings of the document, Beyond Summers Street, written by Will Carter after spending a summer on the streets of Charleston. Out of the Task Force discussions came the vision of a religious response to the needs of the homeless. Thus, the RCCR was born. It was made up of Protestant, Catholic and Jewish congregations, representing 10,000 to 12,000 citizens of Charleston.
A delegation of leading lay and clergy persons went for a two-day period of exploration of the work of The Church of the Savior, Washington, D.C. They had established a number of Samaritan Inns, Apartment Houses for low-income persons, businesses for them to work in, and even a Hospital, to which homeless people could go to stay and receive free medical attention as long as they needed it.
Some of the lay persons of that important trip were Newton Thomas and Judy Keller from First Presbyterian; David Lambert from Christ Church United Methodist; Stan Lowenstein of Temple Israel. Clergy included Dr. Davie Du Bois, Christ Church; Dr. Tony Tucker, First Presbyterian, Rev. Jim Lewis, St. John’s Episcopal; and Rev. Jim Donald, St. Matthew’s Episcopal.
Gordon Cosby, Pastor of the Church of the Savior, introduced this group to a variety of projects and concepts dealing with homeless persons, including the fact that people will “live up to your expectations as well as live down to them.” Thus he said, when we began a Samaritan Inn or any other project in Charleston, it should be “first class” no hand-me-down furniture, etc.
Inspired by that trip, this group returned to Charleston determined to move ahead without haste and without rest. Dr. David Du Bois was elected President, and a working group of about 10-12 people met weekly and more often as necessary to bird-dog this project. They were all amateur volunteers, learning as they went along. But they were inspired by a vision of what was possible if they all worked together on behalf of our less fortunate neighbors.
The development of the Samaritan Inn highlighted a need, brought together people of good will from all over the community, and provided an opportunity for countless numbers of people to give of their time and talents on behalf of others.
The house was purchased from the Knights of Columbus in 1989 with a $150,000 grant from the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation. An additional grant of $150,000 was obtained from the Clay Foundation to renovate the building. The Samaritan Inn received its first resident in 1989. The occasion was the culmination of 2 years of hard work on the part of a diverse group of volunteers and a dedicated board of directors, to raise funds from foundation, individuals, and religious organizations, acquire the building, rehabilitate the building, receive a demonstration government grant, and hire its first direct staff.