Lapeer loves all of their people, no matter where they live. This week our homeless in the area almost had their tents taken, thankfully everyone is ok and safe. Its been the talk of the town, which could be bad or good. Its bad because there are a ton of rumors flying around. Good because we are all talking about a very important issue…. those struggling without a home. We want everyone to realize...these are ordinary people just like you and I. the only difference...they fell on hard times.
The Refuge functions simply...we have a calendar, a church signs up and is in charge of signing up volunteers and meals for one week. It is very, very hard to get people to sign up after April. I know this personally because I was trying this year to keep us open. I had a volunteer working under me who contacted every church in Lapeer County. We had some offers of buildings and people, but not enough to be able to run successfully. So we had to do what we have done every spring for 12 years. We closed, and we handed out tents.
Over the last 3 years, it has been increasingly harder for anyone who’s homeless to find a place to put a tent without running into trouble. This year was no different and sooner rather than later, those staying in tents were asked to vacate. We had a very small window to try to figure out ways to help them. Some left the county, others went to stay with friends. One was able to get in an apartment and some we have no idea where they are. I would personally like to thank Kendra for dealing with that. She's my hero.
Things escalated when the channel 12 news story hit and accusations were flying. There is a lot of misinformation going around and I would like to clear it up.
- The Refuge is a volunteer organization. All people and staff and administrators work for free. We have 2 contracted persons available as churches need them to cover 12am-7am because that is a very hard shift to staff.
- We can only operate when churches sign up and help get volunteers to staff the week they choose.
- Minus the contracted supervisors payment, 100 percent of all funds go directly to the homeless. The money you give pays for the van to transport guests, It purchases clothes, shoes toiletries, backpacks, and...tents. It also pays security deposits for our clients so they can get into homes faster.
- We work with other ministries and agencies so that people can get help faster.
- We encourage self sufficiency. We require those who stay with us work to change their lives so that they can avoid this happening again. We partner with many programs and agencies to try to find the root cause of the problem and fix it. It is different for each person...this year alone we worked with people to help them stay sober, get jobs, deal with anger issues and learn responsibility and budgeting. It has been our most successful year ever in terms of lives and relationships healed.
- We mandatory drug test and do breathalyzers. We have a zero tolerance policy on substance abuse.
- We do this because we care.
- We cant do this without you.
Together we can change this.
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