The Somerset West Night Shelter was established in 1988; the land is owned by the Municipality and committee members raised the money for the building. The building accommodates up to 44 men and 12 women. During winter the facility is pushed to maximum capacity and mattresses are laid out in the dining hall to ensure that less people are turned away. A voluntary committee raises funds and overseas the general running of the shelter. Enlisting committee members is always a challenge as people are so busy; our small committee do an incredible job of making what we do possible. Glenis Crossley served on the committee for 22 years. It has been my pleasure and privilege to be involved. There have been many hi's and low's during that time, too many to mention. I remember vagrants like Father Christmas as I used to call him, who waited every Wednesday for me at the Post Office for a lift "Home" . I felt great sadness when he passed away about 3 months ago. He died amongst friends who cared, in a nice clean, warm bed, and not under the bushes where he was originally found. The excitment when simple things, after years of waiting arrive, when a birth certificate or an ID comes through, not to mention an old age pension or a disability grant, issued after many years of waiting, pleading and trying.
So many Churches have helped in many ways, some taking special meals down, you cannot imagine what pleasure these give to the residents who have so few treats.
A person who must be mentioned is the original fundraiser, Mrs Olive Walsh. I so remember the wonderful Debutants Balls, held in the Town hall, the Go-Cart racing held down Firmount road, Golf days, and big walks, she amassed enough money to build the Night Shelter and invest money that has helped right to this day.
Many of the Vagrants at the Shelter are there through no fault of their own. Old grannies, now that their usefulness to a family is over are thrown out on the street, people who are ill, some with AIDS, some mentally challenged, some who have had strokes, or crippled, so that they can no longer be productive in a family or society, find their way to the Shelter. Where they are given love and kindness,(which many crave) unconditionally given by the staff and committee. They are given a bed with sheets, blankets and pillow, the use of ablution facilities, 2 meals a day, and we see that their medication is taken on time.
There was great gladness when one ex-vagrant came back to show us his bakkie which he had bought and told us that he now had a delivery job.
I retire now from the Night Shelter knowing it is in good hands, with Pastor Jo Swart and her team and the Management Committee, who with the help of the Churches, donors and individuals will help carry on the work of caring for the less fortunate, sickly, elderly and the very poor in our area, it will be a good place for the care these people need for many years to come. Many many thanks to my husband and all the friends and folk that have helped me along the way, God Bless. Glenis Crossley.