(T-G Photo by Tracy Simmons) [Order this photo]
"Cease operations, or pull up our bootstraps," he said.
Choosing the latter, the group opened a sales counter at the Bargain Depot on Depot Street last week, offering knives, swords, replica weapons, lighters and tools at reasonable prices.
"This store is a direct response to the economy," said Bailey, an avid collector. In considering opening a store he valued the old adage, 'stick with what you know.' Several swords on display in the store are part of Bailey's personal collection, though similar items may be ordered.
The store, open Monday through Saturday, also offers personalization services on most items.
Individual contributions to the shelter are down, while the homeless population continues to increase beyond the capacity of what local agencies can manage.
The CROSS project has grown from the temporary shelter which first opened in December 2008 to a pair of residential facilities which serve men, women and children. The non-profit ministry covers five counties including Bedford, Lincoln, Moore, Coffee and Marshall.
Bailey says the homeless shelter is one of the largest in Middle Tennessee outside Nashville, and one of a few which accept women and children.
Last August the ministry launched a level two group home, designated to house six to eight people. That transitional facility provides residents with room and board, as well as limited transportation while residents pay a small weekly fee.
"We have served over 500 people since opening in December 2008," said Bailey, who reports that 70 percent of residents go on to successfully re-establish their lives.
CROSS also formalized the existence of its growing food ministry last year -- providing food and supplies to needy families throughout the area, not just to homeless residents. Local churches participate as collection partners.
CROSS is funded by private donations, churches and local businesses. This year both the City of Shelbyville and Bedford County earmarked funding for the ministry.
Donations of any kind may be made at the shelter at 116 Hickory Drive. To coordinate delivery, contact resident manager Dixie Sullivan at 735-6294.
Visit crossshelterproject.org or call Dr. Carl Bailey at (931) 575-9954.