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Plans unveiled for expanded homeless shelter

| May 17, 2024
A drawing of the proposed addition to the Friends of the Homeless shelter in downtown New Philadelphia that will be called Jack's House of Hope in honor of founder Jack Ream. (Friends of the Homeless of Tuscarawas County)

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (May 17, 2024) – The Friends of the Homeless are revealing their vision for a larger and more modern shelter behind the current one on East High Avenue.

The group held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday evening at the future site ‘Jack’s House of Hope.’  

“We have already helped thousands of lives. We hope to help a multitude more through our effort, and in the process show that Tuscarawas County is, in fact, a light in the state of Ohio where truly we can allow people to experience hope, opportunity, and dignity like never before,” said Friends of the Homeless Board President Rev. Joe Svancara.

Architect Joe Trepicone designed the 20,000-square-foot facility that will have rooms for 14 men, 13 women, and four families and a separate two-story wing for on-site services.

“It consists of offices, counseling spaces, storage, a chapel, a kitchen and dining facility. It’s a truly incredible structure, I think.” 

Friends of the Homeless Founder and building namesake Jack Ream was the guest of honor and gave everyone a ‘pep talk.’ 

“I know from 20 years experience of working with homeless people here in New Philadelphia they need the help of their neighbors, and that is all of us. They need it now when we are trying to build them a new house and especially after we have successfully built it to help them get their lives back in order.”

The First Presbyterian Church used to own the shelter but donated it and the parking area out back to the group last fall so they could expand the operation. Realtor Jeff Mathias helped lead a lengthy and frustrating search for a location elsewhere in New Phila, but every other option got shot down by city leaders.

“It’s been three years that we’ve been getting our teeth stomped on. They don’t want the homeless shelter here, there, wherever. I prayed to God here in November. I said, ‘Where do you want us, Father? It’s been three years. Jack’s getting impatient. I told him he couldn’t die until we get this homeless shelter built.’ He’s going to be 94 on Memorial Day.”

The group is taking donations and pledges to fund the approximately $4.5-million-dollar project has raised about $1.7-million so far. For more information or to contribute, visit their website.

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