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GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Shirley Chupp is a very special woman who reaches out to the community with open arms ready to love and help the needy. She is a counselor with Guntersville First United Methodist Church, but she also is the driving force behind a program for the homeless that offers a safe sheltered night’s sleep, meals, counseling, and fellowship with the local churches in Marshall County.

Selena Mahan describes Shirley as an unsung hero who holds a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Counseling.

“She helped me in my marriage,” Mahan said.  “I was at the end and I knew that was not what God wanted my life to be, so my husband and I went to her for Christian Counseling in our marriage.  That was several years ago and we are still together and we have a 6-year-old and we have been married 11 years.”

Shelia Banks says Shirley’s volunteer work carries over to the Christian Women’s Job Corps where she teaches a parenting class to adults.

“Some of these ladies have lost their children to DHR or to whoever and she comes in and teaches them how to gain self-respect, to get their self back up and work forward to get their children back,” said Banks.

However, it’s Shirley’s work with the homeless that gets the most attention.

“She has spent so much of her time and energy finding them all jobs, homes, food for the next day, and gas back and forth taking them to job interviews and stuff,” said Mahan.

Kathy Van Polen adds, “I know God gave her a vision for this ministry, you know these people aren’t just out on the streets where you can see them, but God showed her there were people in need and she stepped up to help them.”

Shirley agrees it was the Lord who guided her to help the homeless.

“As I was praying, I realized that I really didn’t have any friends who were not in church and that I couldn’t be a light in the world if I wasn’t going where there was darkness,” Chupp said.

This led her to borrow an idea first used in Nashville, Tennessee called ‘Room In The Inn.’

“Last year, we put together a group of 15 churches and started addressing some of the problems of the homeless in this area,” said Chupp.  “We were able to provide services for about 65 people and almost 3,000 meals.”

Shirley calls the homeless her neighbors and says they range in age from 18 months to 70 years old. She also adds it is time to admit there really are homeless people in Marshall County and they need our help.