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Homeless shelter inside old school almost ready to help people keep warm this winter

The heat is on at old Simon Kenton Elementary in Xenia as a homeless shelter inside nears opening (WKEF/WRGT)

Xenia, Ohio (WRGT/WKEF) – As the first blast of cold weather hits the Miami Valley it creates an issue for people looking for ways to get warm. In Greene County there are hundreds of homeless people searching for a place to go, and hope may be on the horizon. The old Simon Kenton Elementary school is on the verge of being turned in a homeless shelter.

The bite of winter is giving way to the sound of hope. The building’s boiler is howling. The school hasn't felt heat in four years, let alone the echo of a child's voice, but inside its beginning to be a refuge.

“Statistics say that Greene County, we could be up to 1,500 homeless people,” said Tracy Chizever the new shelter manager at Simon Kenton Bridges of Hope shelter.

The non-profit has been trying to turn the school into a homeless shelter for a while, but this season a warming shelter is the start. The grand plans for the building are much greater, and you can check out that story here.

“We have to be inspected, and we have a few things left to be done,” Chizever said.

For the past few weeks funds have been short, but this past weekend they quickly approached their $50,000 goal for opening. A local church and a private donor combined to donate $32,000.

“Thursday night at a meeting they told me it was a no-go,” Chizever said of being able to get the heat on in the building, “Friday I was here, and the heat was on.”

The fixed boiler was a major hurdle for the shelter that plans to house nearly 200 people. One half of the shelter will be for men, and the other for women. A moving partition will separate both ends of the gym where people are staying.

“I just feel like God really blessed us,” Chizever said.

The Beavercreek Chick-fil-A even paid its workers to help while their store was closed for two weeks.

“It's just been amazing I've seen God's hand,” Chizever said smiling.

The real miracle will come when they’re able to open. Bridges of Hope wants to open as soon as they can. They are also looking for anyone willing to volunteer. Once they pass inspection it's all systems go.

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