Homeless Shelter approved by Council
By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
A homeless shelter and soup kitchen will be established in the Cherokee community in the near future. Tribal Council passed legislation authorizing the Principal Chief to “establish a homeless shelter and ‘soup kitchen’ to be functional and operational in a timely manner” during its regular Tribal Council session on Thursday, Feb. 4.
The resolution states, in part, “There is a great need within our community to help those who are less fortunate and are currently homeless or have no means of food.”
Principal Chief Patrick Lambert, one of the submitters of the resolution, commented during the discussion on the legislation on Thursday, “This need has been apparent for a good while. Watching what just happened with the weather, it became very apparent that there were some people that could be in danger.”
He said the facility could also be used as an emergency shelter for tribal members. “This could be a facility that could house someone for a couple of days at a time or an overnight stay while they get something fixed at their house.”
Chief Lambert said proper due diligence will have to occur, but he said one site he thought of to locate the facility is the old Cherokee Children’s Home which already has several dormitories and a kitchen area.
Along with Chief Lambert, three Council representatives submitted the resolution including Big Cove Rep. Teresa McCoy, Wolfetown Rep. Bo Crowe and Birdtown Rep. Albert Rose.
Rep. McCoy told Council of her encounters recently with several EBCI tribal members who were hungry and seeking food and other assistance. “All of these people are Cherokee. They’re from different communities, and they were hungry.”
She praised the efforts of those in the community who work to feed those in need such as Lisa and Lester Hardesty who she said operate a food pantry and feed people in the Big Cove Community every night.
Rep. McCoy added that homelessness and hunger shouldn’t be a problem in Cherokee. “We are one of the richest tribes in the east, and there’s no sense in that.”
Tribal Council Chairman Bill Taylor asked if the facility was just for EBCI tribal members, and Chief Lambert responded, “My vision is that it’s for enrolled members. We’ve got some of our own enrolled members that we found living under bridges. It happens.”
Chief Lambert said he also envisions it being open all the time and not just an emergency shelter during storms. “There’s going to be hunger and homelessness year-round.”
Painttown Rep. Tommye Saunooke said herself and Yellowhil Rep. B. Ensley have been working to get one established for years and commended the submitters. “It’s a wonderful piece of legislation.”
Joey Owle, EBCI tribal member, commended Chief Lambert and the sponsoring Council representatives for the legislation and commented, “Helping those less fortunate in our community is very much a need.”
The resolution also directs Chief Lambert “to work with programs to establish policies and procedures that will govern the facility and promote life skills to aid those in need an opportunity to become more self-sufficient and capable of getting back on their feet.”
The One Feather will report further as the plans and budget for the facility become available.