Citizens of Camden County have been among the 686 visitors to Agape House of Vandalia (Missouri) in the past year. The Agape House has been open since Oct. 2008, and since that time has hosted over 5,000 guests. The facility provides overnight accommodations to visitors to the state women’s correctional center in Vandalia (WERDCC) and the men’s center in Bowling Green (NECC). This past year the Agape House provided lodging to visitors from 12 states and 49 Missouri counties.
Sue (not her real name) lives in southwest Missouri and became the 5,000th guest on Jan. 31. Sue travels to NECC to visit a grandson who is incarcerated there; she has been visiting him since he was admitted to NECC nearly five years ago.
The trip takes about four hours each way, and because of the distance, Sue is only able to visit every three or four months. She travels to Vandalia on Friday, spends the night at the Agape House, and then visits her grandson on Saturday. She first learned about the Agape House from her grandson’s wife.
When asked her thoughts about the Agape House, Sue said she “loves” it.
She said the price is great and the facility is always clean. She feels very safe there. She sometimes visits with other guests, but often is tired from her trip and simply goes to her assigned room to rest.
The house is a former church building which has been remodeled to accommodate multiple guests. It has 12 sleeping rooms with a bathroom for each two rooms. The common area includes a living room, kitchen, and dining area. The kitchen area includes a refrigerator and microwave for the guests’ use and is always stocked with snack type foods and microwave items. Manager Doris Donoho is present in the house at all times when guests are present.
The Agape House is funded by donations from a number of churches, associations, and individuals. Assistance is also provided by the United Way of Audrain County and occasional grants.
Guests are asked to pay $5 per night to help pay ongoing expenses. Guests are welcome Thursday through Saturday nights. For additional information or to make reservations, call 594-6755.