New Directions

New Directions Warming/Cooling Center is a 501C3 nonprofit organization founded in 2009 by executive director, Vanessa Tyus. Tyus saw there was a need to help the homeless population in Jacksonville and the surrounding communities and shared her concerns with Mayor Andy Ezard, October 2009. Mayor Ezard agreed to form a homeless task force and officially declared November 2009 as Homeless Awareness Month. The task force included Ms. Tyus, Alan Bradish and other concerned residents. Tyus opened the first homeless shelter in Morgan County on February 2, 2011.

Since then, hundreds of homeless individuals and families have had a safe place while they get back on their feet. Businesses, churches, and other agencies in the community also help by providing meals, toiletries, and other necessary items for the residents. For the past four years, the focus of New Directions has been to assist the homeless with emergency shelter (which operates around the clock). New Directions has received grants from Prairieland United Way, The Jacksonville Children’s Foundation, and Diocesan Campaign for Justice and Hope.

Each guest must pass a background check performed by the Jacksonville Police Department to ensure the safety of other guests, volunteers and employees. Once the guest receives written clearance from the Police Department, they can be admitted to the shelter. New Directions will provide opportunities with a vision: educational opportunities, life training and financial skills. The shelter currently employs one full-time and three part-time employees, three experienced workers through Illinois Department of Aging, and two TANF workers, who provide comprehensive non-residential and emergency shelter services to the homeless men, women and their children. New Directions regularly gives back to our community by providing services within the area.

New Directions currently offers an emergency co-ed shelter for men, women and their families. Guests can receive services in a walk-in and/or emergency shelter manner. At New Directions we like to try to keep everything as normal as possible for our children and families. We celebrate the holidays like home and use opportunities to teach parent-child interaction, how to conduct one’s self in public and general teaching moments.

While New Directions is a safe haven for those whom fall upon such hardship, the focus expands beyond that; we aim to empower the homeless and at risk men, women and children to become self-supporting members of the community, trying to enhance each individual’s social, emotional, mental, spiritual, and problem solving, so the client can maintain a normal life.

A new program called “Opportunities with a Vision” which includes Professional Development Camp (Life Skills) and professional certification training has been started, as well. Camps will be structured in a class-learning environment and clients will benefit from certifications, trainings and supportive services.

New Directions has served 525 Children, 3500 men and women cumulating with a total 78,000 bed nights. Thirty meal providers serve a meal every night of the month.

We would like to thank United Way for giving us the opportunity to share a little bit about us with the community. We are blessed to have the Jacksonville and surrounding communities support over the last 5 ½ years. Without our community love, kindness and generosity this would not be possible.


Vanessa Tyus, Founder/Executive Director

(217) 473-0434,

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