POCATELLO — The Valley Mission rescue shelter project in downtown Pocatello is well underway, with most of the building’s interior demolition complete and a prospective end date set for summer of 2023.

Karl Pettit, director of Valley Mission, which started out of First Baptist Church of Pocatello, said he hopes to have the project complete around this time next year. All that’s left ahead is to fill in an old indoor pool and hot tub.

Pettit acquired the building at 442 N. Arthur Ave., which formerly housed Metropolitan Health Spa, in 2020. Since then, work has been ongoing to convert the fitness facility into the Valley Mission shelter complete with 12 beds, a food pantry, laundromat, life skills programs and dormitory housing for homeless and other at-risk populations.

The project has seen gradual progress over the past two years as all of the demolition has been carried out by volunteers from the community. The volunteer work has saved the project an estimated $50,000, Pettit said.

The current plan is to get the shelter’s food pantry and laundromat open in the building by this December, but the timeline depends on fundraising to cover construction costs and purchase furniture and appliances.

The Valley Mission project has received many donations over the years, including one recently for $15,000 from the Lance Quick Memorial Fund with the Idaho Community Foundation and another for $2,000 from Rumors Pub.

Despite fundraising successes, Pettit said Valley Mission still needs about $1.6 million to bring the project to the finish line. The sooner the shelter is finished and open, the faster people in need can begin to seek help and refuge there.

Valley Mission services are still being offered out of the nearby First Baptist Church, but Pettit said having the new facility open would be a gamechanger for people in need and for the rescue organization’s efforts to provide needed services.

“The quicker we can get the funding for this, the quicker we can get it opened,” Pettit said. “The need just continues to grow. It’s not growing by the week or month anymore. The need here is growing day after day.”

Valley Mission has partnered with many local businesses and organizations and will continue to seek partnerships to help with the construction project and with operating the shelter and its many services once it’s open.

Pettit called the summer 2023 opening goal “aggressive” but said he thinks the project is on track to meet that goal if few to no obstacles arise.

“We’ve got a grant writer that’s working with me and my team, so we’ve been able to really triple our efforts on that and get after some funding. I think it’ll happen,” Pettit said of being able to complete the project by next summer. “This community is amazing, and this project has been an amazing community collaboration. Really, we’re spoiled and I’m OK with that.”