Volunteer has been with Beacon of Hope from start
Published 8:01 am Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Three years ago, the Beacon of Hope Emergency Shelter opened its doors and Saundra Snowden was there.
Six months earlier, she had retired after working at Leggett and Platt for 38 years, including many years as the plant’s office manager.
“I was bored,” she said.
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Around that time, Snowden heard about a new homeless shelter opening in Winchester.
“I knew one of the board members,” she said. “I asked, ‘What can I do?’ They said, ‘Come on down.’ I came down and met (Shelter Director Michele Bradford) and have been here ever since.”
Two and a half days a week, Snowden sits just inside the front door of the shelter on Bypass Road. She answers the phone. She accepts deliveries. She speaks with the residents as they come and go. She tries to keep the paperwork manageable.
Sometimes it is just being a friendly face at the front door.
“I just feel God has blessed me and this is a little way to give back,” she said.
On any given day, there are between 60 and 70 people living in the shelter, including children ranging from a newborn to high school students, she said. Their situations vary, whether they are there voluntarily or not.
“Some of them don’t even have a toothbrush,” she said. “It’s sad.”
The successes, when they occur, make it worthwhile.
“We had a woman leave last week and went back home,” Snowden said. “She’d been here about six months. She had lost everything. She had been into drugs. Her family brought here from out of town.”
Things changed significantly during her stay.
“She had saved money,” Snowden said. “She had gained weight. She had a job. She was a mother of two and was going to be with her boys every day.”
Not every story has a happy ending, she said, and there is a daily battle.
“We fight drugs here every day,” she said, “but its not every person. We fight to keep (drugs) out to keep a safe place for the babies.”
In the end, it’s all worth it.
“I love it here,” she said.