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      Local Shelter Full Ahead of 20th Anniversary

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      A local shelter says they're experiencing extremely high need in about every service they provide.

      That includes a waiting list for Hope Harbor's transitional shelter and a high number of people in their emergency shelter.

      This, as they celebrate two decades in Grand Island.

      It's nothing new for Hope Harbor.

      With the exception of a three month period, the shelter has been operating at maximum capacity since October of 2012.

      Vicki Crowder has called Hope Harbor home for the past three months as she tries to go it on her own after living with relatives.

      "They offer classes, which is wonderful. It's a stepping stone program and helps you get back on your feet," said Crowder, who says all that responsibility was difficult at first.

      She occupies one of 77 beds – all full even after a grant paid for more beds last summer.

      "We were able to add eight more beds and they were full within a week," said Melissa DeLaet, executive director. "That's the hardest thing for us as an agency is not having enough space to provide as much service as we see out there."

      DeLaet said the Hope Harbor board is talking expansion once again, with details expected to come out in the next few months.

      This, as she works to pass the reins on to new executive director Aaron Ross in August.

      DeLaet said, between the board and staff, the shelter is in good hands.

      "They're all very dedicated to the cause and I just don't want to see that change,” she said. “I want to see the agency continue to do what they're doing and change people's lives."

      "I've already come so far, so far from where I was before,” said Crowder. “It's a humbling experience. It really makes you stop and think."

      Hope Harbor started off as the Community Humanitarian Resource Center in 1994.

      "Each year it seems like we're adding new things. We're serving more people. We have more services to provide the community,” said DeLaet. “It's just amazing the things that have been accomplished in 20 years."

      Presently located at 610 W. Division St. in Grand Island, Hope Harbor provides general assistance, transitional shelter and emergency shelter to homeless and near homeless women, children and families.

      Over Hope Harbor’s progression, Mental Health Matters and the Self-Sufficiency Support programs have been added to intensive case management and educational programs to assist residents in becoming self-sufficient.

      Their 20th anniversary falls on Tuesday.

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