By CINDY TOOPES
Courier staff writer
---- — OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Community Outreach Center will be shutting down its homeless shelter for men this week.
In a press release issued Wednesday, OCOM Board President Marty Schmidt said the shelter will permanently shut down on Friday.
"It's with sadness that I announce to you that we will be permanently closing the Ottumwa Community Outreach Ministry on Friday ... following the evening meal," he said.
Schmidt said the decision "has been a difficult one to reach, knowing that the ceasing of services will signifcantly impact our community ... Over the past 10 years, we have served countless meals, provided clothing and supplied shelter to men in need. In addition, we have walked alongside, encouraged and counseled countless individuals toward their next step in moving forward.
"Ottumwa Communitiy Outreach Center is the only one who doesn't charge for lunch or dinner or both," Schmidt told the Courier. "We were serving 50 to 100 meals a day. Our last meal will be the Friday supper hour."
Schmidt said his decision was based upon the lack of ability to maintain an active board coupled with dwindling financial resources.
"During the next few months, we will be taking the appropriate steps to legally dissolve OCOM as an operating organization," he said. "There will be an open-to-the-public board meeting during this time on a date that will be announced later."
Schmidt thanked all of the volunteers, financial donors and churches that have worked alongside OCOM during the past 10 years.
"Their partnership with OCOM has been gracious and kind and allowed us to do significant things within individual lives and the community of Ottumwa," Schmidt said. "We still very much believe that the ministry provided by the outreach center is needed in the community and hope as individuals we can somehow play a role in supporting those who looked to OCOM for services."