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'We need the community' Dayspring Center needs donations & volunteers due to increased demand

The emergency shelter serves families experiencing homelessness
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Posted at 9:26 PM, Jan 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-01 22:20:34-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Every month, the Dayspring Center receives more than 100 phone calls from families that need emergency shelter, but many of those families are being turned away.

"The demand for shelter amongst homeless families has increased dramatically," Lori Casson, Executive Director of the Dayspring Center said.

Casson believes the increase is due to rising rent rates in Central Indiana.

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"So what used to be affordable, is really out of reach for families who are lower income," Casson said.

Casson tells WRTV's Nicole Griffin many people are surprised to learn the families they serve have jobs.

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"Most of our families are making less than $10 an hour and not for 40 hours a week. So it is almost impossible for a family to keep up with the rent," she said.

Penny Laster remembers the day 17 years ago when she called Dayspring Center for help. At the time, she was searching for a safe place to go with her children in order to escape a domestic violence situation.

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"I didn't want my kids to see that. So I had to make the choice to leave. So she let me come," Laster said. "Miss Lori has helped me so much without her I don't know where I would be," Laster said.

Over the years, Laster admits she's failed.

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"She let me come back. So I've been here a few times and every time she says come back. It means a lot because most people wouldn't do that. They will leave you on the streets," Laster said with tears in her eyes.

Dayspring Center has been serving Hoosier families since the 1980's. Inside the emergency shelter at 16th Street and Central Avenue, there is just enough room to house 14 families a night.

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Families seeking shelter typically stay at Dayspring for at least 30 days, but the average stay is between 100 and 120 days, while families work to meet their goals.

Laster is now working on the other side of the desk at Dayspring helping keep families safe and connecting them to resources they need.

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"A lot of people say you don't know what I am going through… and I say you're wrong. I do know what you're going through. And I try to let them you know, stay and stay focused on you. If you need help, ask, don't give up. If you give up this world is terrible, Laster said.

Casson said it's impossible to do the work they do without community support. She's hoping by sharing more about the demand they are seeing and the services they provide that companies and individuals will step up to support their work.

"Most homeless families are afraid to be seen or found because they're so afraid that someone will come and take their children from them because they don't have a place to stay, Casson said.

Click here to make a donation to Dayspring Center.

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