COVID-19 has brought many challenges to people, businesses, and organizations. The Refuge is not immune to such challenges. During the spring, the board of The Refuge determined our current model of rotational shelter needed to change. This is a total revamp of our operations and gives us new challenges The Refuge has not experienced in our 18 years of operation.
The new cold season is right around the corner. We still plan to provide shelter to the homeless and displaced people in our community starting November 1. Since our operations will switch to being a rotational shelter to one location, this presents a problem: where could we shelter the homeless?
The Refuge currently resides in two locations: our Day Center and our Restoration Center. Neither of these places is equipped or zoned for shelter. Therefore, our plan is to ask the City of Lapeer for a variance regarding the Restoration Center. The Refuge will be combining our locations into one, moving our Day Center operations and our offices to the Restoration Center. This will allow us to better serve our guests and clients. Renovations are being planned and implemented to expand our kitchen, add a shower, and add laundry facilities.
The Restoration Center is on the corner of Oregon and Saginaw in downtown Lapeer. The Refuge acquired the building when New Hope Missionary Church decided to disband their fellowship and gift The Refuge their church building.
Though our desire is to have one location, the Restoration Center is only a temporary solution. What is needed is one location with two distinct separate areas, one for sleeping, and another for day-time operation. Having one location during this pandemic gives us the best possible opportunity to control and clean the environment according to CDC guidelines. These guidelines include cleaning high-touch surfaces daily, sanitizing bathrooms and kitchen areas daily, control the number of interactions between people, space out sleeping mats the minimum distance of 9 feet, temperature checks, and wellness checks.
The unfortunate consequence of the CDC guidelines is the reduced amount of people we will be able to shelter. For the past 18 years, our cap of total person we could shelter at one time was 20. Because of social distancing and sleeping area restrictions, we will only be able to shelter 10 men (our largest clientele) and 4 women in our Restoration Center. However, there can only be 10 people at one time in the day-center including staff.
We are seeking additional facilities. However, we cannot shelter the homeless in this location without the variance from the City. Without this variance, The Refuge may not be able to operate as a shelter during this 2020-2021 season.
This is where we need your help. Reach out to anyone you know, friends, family, co-workers, and talk about The Refuge. Tell them about our needs and the people that we help. Contact your city officials and let them know you care about the needs of the homeless and want to see The Refuge operate this coming season.
Also, the renovations we are doing requires worker and funds. If you have the heart to serve the homeless through work or donation you can go to our website at www.therefugelapeer.org or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 810-356-9880.
Written by: Andrew Terry