William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Fri, 14 Oct 2005 22:28:25 -0400

October 14, 2005


Group seeking shelter for the homeless turned away



A local non-profit organization asked the Nye County Board of Commissioners 
last week to provide it with five acres of land on which to build a 
multipurpose building to serve as a clearinghouse for a variety of other 
service organizations, a large room to provide meals and a shelter for 
Pahrump's poor people.

The commissioners said no.

Stepping Stones Inc., a Christian-based organization, wants to become 
Pahrump's "one-stop" center for the homeless and others in need of social 
services. The non-profit is looking for a large parcel of land that will 
enable it to expand in the future.

At present, plans call for a central office staffed by volunteers fielding 
and directing incoming calls to the appropriate organization. Envisioned are 
a community food bank of commodities and a data bank of information by which 
to refer people to other service organizations in the valley.

The intention of the group, according to its mission statement, is to 
"manage and/or provide organized and unified services in a coordinated 
effort with other groups, organizations, non-profits, churches and companies 
to help people and families in need."

Stefanie Charbonneau, president of Stepping Stones and owner of Red Rock 
Builders Inc., and Paul Jordan, pastor of Church on a Mission and secretary 
of the non-profit, made the request last week. They specified a parcel of 
county-owned land the organization wanted to obtain at 3761 N. Stephanie, 
near Bannavitch Street and Bell Vista Avenue in northwestern Pahrump.

But the commissioners didn't like that location because it was too far away 
from the main artery of town, and would only generate traffic to and from 
the distant site.

Commission Chairwoman Candice Trummell also did not like the idea of setting 
a precedent in giving land to non-profits, as occurred last year when No To 
Abuse asked for and received land to build a new facility and shelter for 
women. "That's been my concern in general," Trummell said.

"We just feel we would benefit (the county)," said Charbonneau. "We just 
feel ... it's time for a shelter and food bank."

Pastor Jordan said the organization was now feeding 80 to 100 poor families 
a week in Pahrump. The group is a recipient of the federal Department of 
Agriculture's food commodities program, which are distributed in meals by 
the church.

The plan is to reduce the duplication of efforts among helping organizations 
and increase efficiency in providing services to those in need. Stepping 
Stones plans a family "shelter" building and wants to provide counseling 
services, self-help programs and seminars with space for future expansion.

Their goal is to take on responsibility for oversight of the Pahrump 
Valley's seeming growing homeless population and its food and shelter needs.

"Right now, nobody is doing what we want to do," said Jordan.

Trummell said she wanted to see a central place for Stepping Stones to be 
located, but commented, "The Calvada Eye is going to be sold."

However, the Eye failed to generate a single bid on the day after the 
meeting with Stepping Stones Inc.

"The homeless population will grow," Jordan said, He wanted the space 
offered by a five-acre parcel on the outskirts of the developed town, 
indicating that the project was bound to expand. He envisioned up to 30 
people at a time needing services or shelter at the site, he said.

Commissioner Joni Eastley said the board should first set in place a policy 
for donating land to non-profit, outreach organizations.

The board was unanimous in denying Stepping Stones' request, saying that the 
organization could return to the commission at a later time to renew its 
request, but for a different, more centrally located parcel. In other words: 
Use the experience of getting turned down as a steppingstone toward a 
brighter tomorrow.

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