Transforming lives in the Clinton community for more than three decades hasn’t come without its challenges, and this winter was one of the latest.
Victory Center Ministries in Clinton wound up with high utility bills this season.
Managers are trying to raise $18,000 to cover the costs of heating and electricity, and they’ve seen a lot of support come from the community to make that happen.
In the past month, they are at nearly 80 percent of their goal with more than $14,000.
Victory said by reacher their goal it will be enough to pay their outstanding bills.
Victory Center operates five facilities. Those include shelters for men, women and children and a transitional housing program.
Combined they can serve 120 people at a time.
That’s in addition to offering daily meals.
So it doesn’t take long to see how prolonged negative temperatures can balloon utility bills.
A resident at Victory Martiece Coleman said, “This place is full of love. I found a family here.”
Martiece Coleman has found a place to call home, at least until life improves.
Coleman said, “It was only supposed to have been for a day and it turns out that this is a program and so now here I am, six months, seven months in.”
Victory provides its residents spiritual and skill training program.
Coleman said he fortunate to not just be in the program but to have been there during this past winter’s worst.
Coleman said, “When we have a place like this, and they’re like welcome and come on in and depending on the person, it’s like thank you.”
While the buds of warmth can now be seen, the frigid cold will be in the memory of those who work at the Victory Center Ministries for a long time to come.
Founder and Executive Director Rev. Ray Gimenez said, “Try to keep up with the bills has almost been impossible.”
Founder and Executive Director Rev. Ray Gimenez said this is the worst winter he’s experienced in the more than 30 years of operating Victory Center.
For staff, it more than just keeping people comfortable but safe.
Victory Center Women’s Shelter Director Mary Anne Gimenez said, “When the temperatures go way down you have to crank the heat up because we have babies and the temperatures have to be warm enough to keep them warm in the middle of the night.”
This winter hasn’t made that too easy.
Richard Paul, the Men’s Shelter Resident Director said, “With how hard it’s been, it’s been really, really difficult to get all that funding that we need and right now we are in the rears. We’re behind on some of the heating and electrical bills.“
But for Victory Center, they’re amazed by how the community has responded to their need.
Rev. Gimenez said, “I am thanking God for people that come out of the woodwork, recognizing the emergency that we have.”
The situation with the bills was something Coleman said he didn’t know at first but learning about it made him want to do something a little extra to help.
“It kind of dawned on me, even though I’m a part of something, a part of this group when that situation came, and it was made known to me, I realized, I was like okay, so I have to help out a little more,“ said Coleman.
For Coleman, that support means is everything because of how far he’s come and that there remains a need for Victory’s warm beds.
Coleman said, “Go on about my life, really, so I can get on my own two feet.”
Alex Fenzel is another resident who said he’s glad he had this place to go to when he needed it two and a half weeks ago.
“This place was a safe haven for me,“ said Alex Fenzel. “It offered me food, shelter and spiritual services.“
For Fenzel, he said the Victory Center has been helping even before he arrived with the pantry every weekend to make sure he has food.
Now, he’s hoping with Victory he can find his next steps.
Coleman told Local 4 News through the center he’s been able to enroll in college and is studying to become an EMT and Paramedic.
Right now the Victory Center said they’re getting a bit of a break when it comes to utility use but know soon, they’ll need to start turning on the ACs.
People can donate on their fundraising page for the utility bills.
There’s also the option of reaching out to their office at 563.242.9016. Victory told Local 4 News they’re also looking to find a grant writer.