Ministerial Association Temporary Shelter (M.A.T.S.) is a compassionate ministry which reflects the strengths of our communities, provides today’s needs and works to heal and to secure the future of those who are temporarily displaced. M.A.T.S.’ mission is to provide shelter, food, and clothing to the homeless in a home-like atmosphere; to provide assistance through counseling, education, and advocacy to the homeless for the purpose of obtaining independent housing and self-sufficiency; and to provide the public with education about and an awareness of the myriad problems faced by the homeless.
M.A.T.S., located in Morristown, Tennessee, has been serving the needs of homeless individuals and families in East Tennessee for 20 years. Members of the Greater Morristown Ministerial Association rented two rooms in the Kingmyer Motel in November 1986 to provide overnight shelter, dinner, and breakfast for homeless persons. Unfortunately, no records survive to indicate how many persons were served at the Kingmyer. A year later the newly incorporated not-for-profit organization purchased and moved into a three-bedroom, 75+ year old house in the downtown area of Morristown with a capacity of 16 beds.
With capacity approaching 95%, an addition was constructed in 1995 that expanded the four-bed men’s dormitory to ten beds. By 2001 requests for services had increased at a rate of 58% over three years and the Shelter was experiencing 100% capacity on a regular basis. M.A.T.S. launched a $200,000 Capital Campaign to construct a new building adjacent to the main shelter that would house an additional 16 beds, doubling shelter capacity to 32 beds. The Herbert House Annex was opened on March 24, 2003. The 2400 sq. foot annex and the main shelter have experienced an 88% capacity rated for the past three years, sheltering an average of 28 persons per night.
While residing at the M.A.T.S. shelter, homeless individuals and families receive a safe and secure place to live while they address breaking down the barriers they face to independent housing and self-sufficiency. These barriers include unemployment, low levels of education, poor physical and/or mental health, addiction issues, and lack of safe & affordable childcare, to name a few.
Some additional benefits that residents of M.A.T.S. receive are:
M.A.T.S.’ four Case Managers work closely with each resident to identify individual barriers and to empower each resident to formulate short -and long- term goals to overcome those barriers. One of M.A.T.S.’ main case management objectives is to re-integrate our residents into the community so that they can establish a network of resources that can be accessed both from the Shelter and once they are out on their own. We make use of all resources available in our community to better help the residents of M.A.T.S.
One of the signature programs that M.A.T.S. provides for its residents is the Moral Reconation Therapy Counseling Program (MRT). This nationally-recognized program is a systematic, step-by step cognitive-behavioral treatment strategy designed to enhance self-image, promote growth of a positive, productive identity, and facilitate the development of the higher stages of moral reasoning needed to improve functional decision-making. The implementation of MRT in 2003 for the adult residents of M.A.T.S. has greatly improved their ability to facilitate a positive change of behavior, attitude, and beliefs so they can break the cycle of homelessness and be better able to live as responsible citizens in society. MRT is a natural outgrowth of M.A.T.S.’ mission to assist residents in resolving the life issues that lead to their homelessness.
M.A.T.S. is governed by a Board of Directors consisting of 25 volunteers from all walks of life who live and work throughout the seven-county service area, including two former residents of the Shelter. Board members serve a three year term; Board members chair all of the organization’s standing committees. The M.A.T.S. organization has experienced much growth, especially over the past thirteen years, not only in service to the clients, but in budget and staffing areas as well. Staffing for the shelter has grown from an Executive Director and one full-time volunteer house manager (Herbert House, in whose memory the Annex is named) in 1992 to seven full time employees.