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Anthony McMinn has operated the Hendersonville Rescue Mission for 18 years and helped thousands of homeless men and women and children. The organization recently opened a day center for the homeless offering showers, GED courses and other services.
McMinn said he is not sure another center offering services to homeless men and women is needed.
McMinn's organization opened the Hendersonville Christian Outreach Center on Seventh Avenue, just a block from where a nonprofit called Joseph's House of Hope Outreach Ministries plans to open a center serving homeless men and women and others who need training or assistance.
"We told them probably two years ago we were going to be doing a day center," McMinn said of the Joseph's Outreach, which was started by First United Methodist Church but has expanded to include other churches and advocates. "People know in this community what we do and we try to do it at a high level. We offered to partner with them but they did not want to partner with Hendersonville Rescue Mission."
Known for its rules, the mission might turn away some homeless or needy people that the new ministry is willing to take.
"If they don't like our rules, they don't like our structure, so be it," McMinn said.
Joseph's Ministry is not competing with the Rescue Mission so much as offering services that the older organization does not, said Jim Kane, a past board chair and one of the founders. The 3,200-square-foot center at 701 Seventh Ave. East will serve homeless adults until early afternoon and homeless children and teenagers after school. It offer people a place to do homework and laundry, pick up mail and receive other services.
"We have met with Anthony three different times and explained what we're doing," Kane said. "The first time there was no conflict and the second time they were doing the same things we were. Anthony will only take a certain number of people and we're more into taking anybody in need of assistance and guidance. They don't have to be homeless, they could be having financial trouble. He doesn't have a laundry available to people off the street. We do. Anthony's biggest problem that we can see is that we're in his neighborhood."
McMinn's years of experience makes him dubious. Some of the new ministry's services, he said, might encourage dependence.
"We have so much clothes in our clothing closet to give away that we never saw a need for a laundromat," he said. "At some point a grown man should be able to go to laundromat and wash his own clothes. At some point you've got to challenge people to do things on their own. They can go get a mailbox. They can go get general delivery" from the post office.
Some shopkeepers and property owners on Seventh Avenue wonder if the area targeted for revitalization is seeing too much of a good-hearted thing. Besides the day centers serving the needy, the area is also home to the Rescue Mission and the Storehouse, which feeds the needy.
The newly created Seventh Avenue Advisory Board last month asked City Manager John Connet if the city could impose a moratorium on such uses. He said it could not block the new ministry as long as it met the zoning requirements. But he did commit to having the city planning department study a zoning code amendment that would keep such centers a certain distance apart.
Kane said Joseph's Outreach Ministry may start construction on the center as early as this week.
"I think there's plenty of room for more than just one," he said. "He takes care of 45. We think there's something like 500" in need of serves the new ministry plans to offer. "We will not have overnight lodging. We will serve some meals but not three meals a day like Anthony does. He does quite a few things that we think are important. It seems a little silly to me to be arguing over helping people who need help. But I can understand his viewpoint. He's controlled it a long time. We do not intend to be in any kind of conflict at all."