SYSK: Joni Hansen operates daytime homeless shelter - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

SYSK: Joni Hansen operates daytime homeless shelter

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

The idea for this Cedar Valley Hospitality House came to Joni Hansen in the summer of 2009 while she was volunteering at a breakfast shift at a homeless shelter.

"It was a rainy June morning and there was a woman there with two children and she had to leave the shelter. I asked her where she was going and she said she was going to the park and at that moment it actually dawned on me where do people spend their days that are living in a shelter at night," said Joni Hansen.

By December of 2009, Hansen opened the daytime homeless shelter in Waterloo. It's open everyday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"Air conditioning, TV, coffee and they feed you. So it's really nice," said Nick Keifer.

Nick Keifer became homeless about a year ago, and he's working with Joni Hansen to get back on his feet.

"She just provides the basic needs you would need to help you get going again," said Keifer.

Joni Hansen said she wanted a place where people could go during the day and get resources for work and housing.

"We do become like family. I don't know if people are going to understand that, but we are a nucleus. We are a family," said Hansen.

Hansen herself is at the house seven days a week usually with a volunteer.

"Her heart is in it. She really cares for the people that come here, and she does whatever she can for them," said volunteer Marge Floth.

Hansen does what she can, but community support is also needed. The public is invited to a Phantom Sleep Out Fundraiser for the house.

Between 7 p.m. on Friday, August 24th and 7 a.m. Saturday, August 25th you're invited to visit "Hospitality House" on facebook and watch a video about what it's like to sleep outside -- without actually having to sleep outside.

"I can't think of too many people who've come through this door who want to live on the street or in a shelter. Certainly sometimes it is by their own doings, but I think if they can experience knowing they can get out and come to grips with what caused this and rise above it, we've helped," said Hansen.

Nick Keifer soon hopes to be one of those people who rises above.

"All I can do from this is learn. Every experience I'm going through now is building character in my eyes," he said.

Besides the Cedar Valley Hospitality House, Joni Hansen is also the Metro Coordinator for Perpetual Adoration and she's very active in her church, which is St. Ed's in Waterloo.

The Cedar Valley Hospitality House expects to move to a new location soon. We'll keep you updated when that happens.

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