Metro East homeless shelter unveils complete make-over

Illinois

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – Fox 2 News was there for the “big reveal” at a homeless shelter for women and children.    

What began as a request for volunteers to help paint the dining room in the summer became a $10,000 complete make-over, free of charge.   

The dining room at Hubbard House in East St. Louis, Illinois, had more of a cafeteria feel.

A massive new dining room table, new cabinets, countertops, seating, décor, and yes – paint, had it feeling more like “home.”  

“This is amazing because it’s homey. It’s a special place. It’s like our homes. It’s like where we gather with our families,” said Toni Hubbard, executive director of Catholic Urban Programs, which operates the shelter in a former convent.  

“The space matters. The environment matters when we are doing the hard work of helping the unhoused transition back into stable and decent housing.” 

She got her first look Thursday as volunteers cleaned up and put their finishing touches on the new space.   

Volunteers did it all in four days at a time when most people can’t get ahold of the supplies or the labor to have it done in their own homes.   

Hubbard House has a capacity for 18 homeless women and children. There are 12 staying there currently, and room enough for everyone at the same table now.   

“The first thing I saw was when they brought this table in, I was like, ‘oh my gosh, I love this table,’ ” said Gywanna Montague, the shelter’s director. “You could tell a lot of love was put in… it gives them a sense of safety, security, and just the environment … heir integrity, dignity, and just “human” in them.” 

“When I heard about moms and kids not having a place to go, that gets you. You just give back,” interior designer Jill Geoppo said, of JSB designs.   

She saw a social media post seeking volunteers to help spruce up the dining room. She turned it into a crusade to do more. BJC Home Services joined her, providing 90% of the labor.  

Donations of cash and supplies also poured in.   

“Just because it’s a homeless shelter, we don’t want to take away people making memories, and people sitting at the table and dining together,” Muhammad said.  

The space will have them not only feeding their bodies but also their hopes and dreams. 

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