Ruth House, a drop-in center for the homeless and warming shelter on cold nights, is up and running in a new location in Superior.
But what happened to Esther?
Walking Victorious, the Superior-based ministry that operates Ruth House, announced in January it also had acquired a four-bedroom home in Duluth’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Dubbed Esther House, it would be available as a shelter in the daytime and also be open overnight in cold conditions, said Jack Swonger, the ministry’s community outreach pastor.
"We have wonderful community support on both sides of the bridge," Swonger said at the time. "We have the house now, but now we're just putting together the volunteers."
Walking Victorious still has the house on 24th Avenue West, Swonger said on Tuesday. But it still doesn’t have enough volunteers.
To date, five volunteers have stepped up, Swonger said. A minimum of nine more are needed to operate the shelter. If and when it opens, it will have the capacity to house up to 17 people overnight.
The Superior Telegram reported this week that Ruth House, 632 Grand Ave. in Superior, has housed five to 10 people on cold nights so far. It can provide overnight shelter for up to 50 people, program coordinator Chrissy Foster told the Telegram. It’s open when the temperature is expected to drop below 20 degrees.
Swonger said Walking Victorious has provided bus rides for people from Duluth to Superior so they can take shelter in Ruth House.
Although Duluth has housing for the homeless, most notably at the CHUM center, 125 N. First Ave. W., it currently doesn’t have a warming center for cold nights. City Center West, which operated for that purpose on subzero nights last winter, was deemed insufficient because it wasn’t built with overnight stays in mind and, technically, the people who stayed there weren’t allowed to sleep.
However, two sites other than Esther House are expected to be open in Duluth as the winter continues, starting with Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 219 N. Sixth Ave. E., in December.
Swonger said those interested in volunteering to serve at Esther House may call Ruth House at (715) 392-2833.