Good Samaritan Center keeps the faith

Cindy Stuckman stocks the shelves in the new Good Samaritan Center building at 25 S. Beech Street. Gail Lavey, in back, also helps with the move to the new building. The Center is now open at its new location. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Cindy Stuckman stocks the shelves in the new Good Samaritan Center building at 25 S. Beech Street. Gail Lavey, in back, also helps with the move to the new building. The Center is now open at its new location.

Facility relocating to Beech Street

By Rachel Segura

Journal Staff Writer

Cindy Irvin's mission statement is simple: have a passion for compassion. The executive director of the Good Samaritan Center has spent the last 31 years promoting love and good faith to those who need it most.

Now, after 27 years of operating the center at 25 1/2 S. Elm, Irvin will pack up the goods and move one block over to 25 S. Beech - next door to the Cortez Barber Shop. The center's new operations, which opened on Monday, March 18, will be in a more visible, centralized location.

Irvin explained that over the years, the task of keeping up with all the various items that people are dropping off at the center had become chaotic. Signs around the Elm street location clearly state that any donations should be dropped off during working hours. However, these rules are followed by few.

"When things get dropped off while we aren't open, people will go through them," Irvin said. "They will also urinate on the items, defecate on the items, or trade out their dirty clothes for clean ones."

The mess Irvin would find the next day was becoming too much for her to handle. Sorting through the muck was amounting to more work than necessary. As the only paid employee, Irvin does not run the center for money. She runs the center because she loves people. But she was getting worn down.

She took her concerns to the Good Samaritan Center's board of directors, hoping they would have an answer. Criminal activity and volunteer safety was also becoming a risk factor for Irvin and center volunteers. The board took action to find a new location.

"I didn't want the move to be under my reign," Irvin said. "But when we walked through the new building they voted that day to move."

Irvin, who is hoping to retire at the end of the year, was excited and surprised that the decision came so quickly. With the new space, Irvin and the board declared new rules for assistance.

First, the center will no longer accept or provide clothing, household goods or furniture. They will strictly carry food and hygiene products, only. The items they are no longer keeping were sent to other organizations who also provide for needy families. They also will now require a proof of address along with photo identification. If they are from out-of-state, the proof of address is mandatory.

They are also only able to receive food benefits every 60 days.

The new facility on Beech street, is a breath of fresh air for Irvin. The Elm Street location has not had air conditioning the 27 years she has worked there.

"We run every fan we own and sweat all summer," Irvin said.

She's excited to be in a building with both working air and heat. Walking space is also more efficient for customers and volunteers. Irvin sees the move as a positive change. She looks forward to a job with less chaos and oversight.

"There will be more directed help as far as counseling services go, food distribution and help with hygiene," Irvin explained.

The amount of people the Good Samaritan Center serves monthly can reach upwards of 500. Families, individuals and lonely travelers are all welcome. In the month of February, the center served 258 people. The amount of food given was worth $9,910.

Irvin keeps track of everything given and who stops in. She also remembers the many people who have made great impressions on her.

"Many clients have helped to give back financially or with help cleaning up," she said. "There are so many to be thankful for."

The center is currently operating out of their new facility. Irvin hopes the new building will take some stress of the job away and replace it with more faith.

rachels@cortezjournal.com