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Transitional living program in St. Charles going strong after 10 years

Published: Friday, Sept. 6, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

ST. CHARLES – This weekend, Lazarus House is celebrating 10 years of helping the homeless regain their independence through its Center for Transitional Living.

A space crunch is largely what prompted Lazarus House leaders to open the center in 2003, said Carol Crytser, associate director of Lazarus House and manager of the Center for Transitional Living.

Crytser said Lazarus House founder, Darlene Marcusson, who is now retired, helped launch the transitional living center after reflecting on what to do about their lack of space. She said when Marcusson did a little research, she found that someone had the same idea and laid out some plans, but they were never put to use.

“Things just kind of all came together, even as far as the funding,” Crytser said.

In the last decade, the center has served a total of 244 people.

The program allows people who are staying at Lazarus House’s emergency shelter live in one of 12 dormitory-style transitional living spaces for up to two years. Clients contribute 10 percent of their income toward their transitional housing in order to get accustomed to paying for living expenses, Crytser said.

“We work with really getting them into the budgeting habit and we’re pretty strict with how we expect them to budget,” she said, adding that the two-year cushion gives clients time to pay off any debts they might have.

An accountant regularly donates his time to help clients with managing their money, and employment experts help clients with resumes and job-seeking tips, she said.

“It’s just a really great opportunity for people to get into transitional housing and to become more stable so they don’t bounce right back into the homeless shelter,” Cryster said.

She said the program has been successful, as few people end up back at the shelter once they’ve been through the program.

An anniversary celebration is planned for Saturday and includes tours of the of the Center for Transitional Living, the Emergency Shelter, the Women and Children’s Day Center and the Community Resource Center.

Refreshments will be served, and a short program is planned, Crytser said.

“We’re hoping a lot of people will come so [they] will see what we do here,” she said.

If you go 

What: Lazarus House’s Center for Transitional Living 10-year anniversary celebration

Where: 214 Walnut St., St. Charles

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday

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