Hello Folks, Andrew Terry with The Refuge Homeless Shelter of Lapeer - giving you an update from The Refuge.
Recently, the board of directors had to make a hard decision in delaying our opening for two weeks. Instead of opening on November 1, we are now going to open our doors to the homeless on November 15.
There are several factors in making this decision. One is we are still working on our building to accommodate our changes for shelter and changes for COVID crisis. We are doing renovations to add a shower, expand our kitchen, and get the building ready to social distance and receive the homeless.
Another factor is we want to be able to expand our volunteer base. In the past we have helped the churches that were unable to fill their volunteer spots by reaching out to our network of churches and volunteers. We want to expand that network even more. We want to make sure no church is left out of helping the homeless in our community. We want to be able have people available to fill shifts, give food, and give support.
To do this we needed to put together new policies, and new training, especially for health issue and COVID. We will format an online sign up for days or weeks churches are not able to help. We will also offer online tutorials for new volunteers that have not helped The Refuge in the past.
One issue that is restricting us is the zoning to use our building. There is an interpretation in the law that we are only able to shelter our guests at our building 14 days out of the month. This means we needed to find another place to shelter our guests overnight. We have found the Michigan Christian Youth Camp (MCYC) - they have graciously given use of one of their buildings to use for the other days of the month we cannot shelter at our own place. This means for two weeks we will shelter at our own building. The other two weeks will be at the MCYC. Until the city gives us approval to use our building for shelter temporarily during this COVID crisis, we will be using this 2-week-on-2-week-off model.
That being said, there is a public hearing regarding our use of our building coming on November 4 at 6:30. The meeting is happening through Zoom. In this meeting the city will hear from the public the pros and cons of allowing us to use our building as shelter temporarily during this COVID crisis. We will not have a decision until December 7. Until then we will do everything we can to ensure the homeless are sheltered whether at our building or at the camp ground.
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This is Andrew Terry asking you to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.
Hello Folks, Andrew Terry with The Refuge Homeless Shelter
2020 has been a crazy year, to say the least - everyone has been effected by the virus in various ways. The Refuge is in the same boat as everyone else. Our season was cut short last spring - we had to transition sheltering the guest in one location until the Stay-Home-Stay-Safe order was lifted.
What the pandemic highlighted most in our need for a permanent location, a permanent shelter in our county. However, we are the only shelter that operates rotationally during the winter months, that is open to anyone who is homeless who is willing to transition out of homelessness.
Last spring, the board decided to pause our rotational operations and to seek out a permanent location for this coming season. Due to the COVID requirements given to us they thought it best to be able to control one environment instead of 20. This way we can follow the guidelines given to us the best way possible.
We are working with the city to get temporary approval to use our facilities in downtown Lapeer to shelter the homeless this coming season. This means we will not be rotating between churches for as long as the COVID crisis exists. We are trying shelter the homeless at our building on the corner of Oregon and Saginaw streets.
There is a public hearing before the Zoning Planning Commission on November 4 at 6:30 to address the use of our building as shelter. After the hearing, there will not be a decision until December whether we can use our building as shelter 100 percent of the time this season.
We also have use another location that we can use overnight. Again, this will be a single location that we will use for overnight until we get approval from the city. We still plan to open on November 1 helping the homeless in our community.
We are still asking the churches to partner with us, not to host the The Refuge at your facility, but to sponsor The Refuge at our facility.
What does that mean? That means we are asking the churches to continue to volunteer for The Refuge one, maybe two weeks this season, to bring your people to our facility to feed and minister to the homeless. So, instead of the churches providing the building, the food, and the people, we are asking each church to provide just the food and the people.
We have to limit the amount of people in our facilities due to social distancing guidelines. This means we can only shelter a maximum of 10 people at our facility. Also, this will limit the among of volunteers we can have working at one time. So, we are looking for just one female, and one male, to volunteer for shifts during the evening times, and one shift in the morning.
We know this changes everything - we are still figuring out all the policies and procedures. We plan to open November 1st, less than one month away. We have a lot of work to do. Please keep an eye out here on Facebook for more info, visit our website often as we will be updating it these coming weeks, and also, be sure to click the link below to subscribe to our emails.
You can also comment below with your questions or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
One final note: our van fundraiser has been a complete success. We reached out to you guys asking for half of the cost of our van, just $5,000 - you guys came through giving both online and offline - we have raised over $10,000 so far! If we continue this growth we will have the van paid off with no debt!
Thank you for watch, this is Andrew Terry with The Refuge Homeless Shelter saying, Seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.