by Donna Olendorf, coordinator for Grace Safe Harbor volunteers
Fifteen years ago, one small church decided that no more homeless people would freeze to death in Traverse City. They opened their doors, nightly, to provide a warm, dry place for the homeless to sleep.
Since then, Grace Church and 22 other churches have joined this mission. More than 1700 community volunteers have now provided a warm dinner, a light breakfast, and a night’s rest to “those with the least among us.”
This January, the coldest month of the year, Grace will be hosting Safe Harbor again, and even though the homeless no longer sleep at our church, Grace will provide the staffing and supplies for the week of January 5 – 12. New this year is the presence of a Goodwill staff person during the whole time that the shelter is open. While this is tremendously helpful, it doesn’t diminish the need for volunteers. Grace needs to fill approximately 150 shifts for its hosting week.
You can sign up to help right now. Grace coordinator Donna Olendorf will be on site Sunday, Dec. 2, after the 10 am service. Join her to reserve your shift and receive handouts and training on procedures. If you are unable to attend the training, you can still help. There is now a sign-up sheet in the narthex and the online signup is open as well: click here
Grace Church’s Jubilee Ministries – comprised of Jubilee House, the Spedding Food Pantry, and Friday Community Meal – provide critical services year round to Traverse City’s homeless population. Safe Harbor, however, is the cornerstone for shelter during the winter months. Won’t you please mark your calendar to help during these important dates? And if you are unable to assist in person, monetary donations are also needed. There is a sign-up sheet for snacks that you can provide as well.
302 different people slept in the shelter last winter. The average length of stay was 34 nights. In the first year of central shelter operation, an average of 57 guests nightly were served a total of 14,000 evening meals and we provided nearly 10,000 bed nights. 1300 loads of laundry were washed and 2400 showers were facilitated. Volunteers have now given more than 18,000 hours to this mission.
Lives have been saved and suffering has been alleviated. All of this has been achieved through the love and dedication of people like you. Can you find it in your heart to help again this year?