Room in the Inn has a new direction in response to the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to a stroke of good timing plus the cooperation of Elizabethtown city government.

Room in the Inn is a three-month winter shelter program for the homeless that began locally in December 2015. It depended on the grace of local churches and their membership, which open their doors one night per week as a shelter.

Despite concerns about protocols regarding staffing and facilities plus concerns about insurance liability, organizers managed to cobble together a network that provided food, shelter and related services to help people escape the impact of the most bitter winter months.

At times, space did not meet demand and money was needed to provide additional overnight shelter in local motels. But a group of very dedicated and caring people have kept the program alive.

COVID threatened that compassion – just as it’s threatened or challenged so many other aspects of life.

The need for sanitation and safety standards is just too much to move people from place to place night after night.

So the leadership team of this faith-based effort did what people of faith do.

“We began to pray about a solution,” said Daryl Pepper, who is an associate pastor at Grace Heartland Church.

The opening of a new fire station on the south side of Elizabethtown provided an unexpected solution for this season. Room in the Inn Firehouse will open in December because caring Elizabethtown city leaders stepped up.

“We are proud to be partners this year to bridge a gap at that location until things get back to normal,” Mayor Jeff Gregory said.

The former fire station at 621 E. Dixie Ave. will serve as a shelter this winter. By another stroke of providence, it’s handy to the Warm Blessings soup kitchen which in the same block.

As always, there’s room for others to help. The main financial need is supplies to maintain a healthy facility, contract laundry services, provide hotel rooms for those who have been exposed to COVID and food expenses for breakfasts.

Donations may be made at Tax-deductible gifts also can be sent to RITI Eliza­beth­town at P.O. Box 102, Elizabethtown.

The volunteers have been doing their part, the city has responded and there’s apparent evidence of some divine intervention. Now it’s time to measure the size of the rest of the community’s heart.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.

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