Cove House revamps programs, workforce


Much like the bright pink flowers that adorn its entrance, the Cove House Emergency Homeless Shelter has experienced plenty of growth in the past few months and is blossoming into an organization with more resources to help achieve its mission. The shelter has acquired two new employees, another building and has launched new programs, all of which Executive Director Benjamin Tindall said were much needed. “We’ve revolutionized the way we’re doing things right now,” he said. “We have several things in the works and new goals we’re working on and working toward.” A twice-weekly Bible study and a counseling ministry have begun at the shelter. Tindall said regular workshops on résumé building, interview skills and continuing education will be given soon. A gift from the Officers’ Spouse’s Club also provided more shelves for the shelter to organize its food pantry. Tindall said the shelter also acquired a storage building, which was assembled by volunteers and has freed more space in the shelter offices. “It’s been very humbling and a bit staggering to see the amount of help we got to put that together,” he said. The shelter will need the extra space now that it has added two staff members for the new positions of volunteer coordinator and resident manager. Mary Claire Huslage will create a volunteer program, recruit volunteers and develop new ways for them to serve the shelter, while Mindy Sipes-Bell will help residents of the shelter get back on their feet and advocate for them with potential employers and property managers. “We have so many good volunteers that come in every week, but there really hadn’t been a set program,” Tindall said of the coordinator position. He said Sipes-Bell will provide residents with many valuable resources. “We can help place these people in good jobs and place them in independent housing. Instead of just giving them a resource sheet, we can work with them.” Sipes-Bell has managed hotels for 25 years, and said so far she’s found her work at Cove House rewarding. “Volunteering is the most rewarding job you can ever have,” she said. “The only thing I make here is the smile on somebody’s face when I help them, and it’s the most rewarding paycheck I’ve ever received.” She said her duties include talking to landlords to compile lists of available properties, checking on residents, talking to them about rule infractions, handling intakes and move-outs and organizing an employment guide. “I don’t have any typical day,” she said, adding she finds her work challenging for many reasons, some of them personal. “Being as compassionate as Christ would want me to be to people I feel are using us. Everybody in life needs a hand-up at some time, but people who want handouts, that’s where I struggle. That’s a personal struggle for me.” Assisting those truly in need makes up for that, she said. “Helping those kind of people makes you feel really, really good.” Huslage said she found out about the shelter seven months ago when she came in to get food from the food bank. She began volunteering and was thrilled when she was offered the on-site position. “I was finding it difficult to find a job with my history,” she said, adding she’s been clean for 3½ years. “Cove House opened their arms to me without blinking an eye. They didn’t hold my past against me.” Huslage, who lives on-site, does maintenance work and upkeep for the shelter. She conducts bed checks at night for the residents. She also coordinates the volunteers and manages the shelter’s food bank. “I’m a master of all trades,” she said. “I’m very, very joyful about my job, and I couldn’t ask for anything else. I have a purpose.” Contact Lauren Cabral at or (254) 501-7476.