After purchasing and renovating a shelter in Mount Clemens for homeless women, the Macomb County Rotating Emergency Shelter Team (MCREST) recognized the need for a men’s shelter as well. The Women’s League from Trinity Lutheran Church in Clinton Township decided to step in and offer support. With a $140,000 Memorial Trust Fund grant from Trinity, MCREST was able to purchase a building adjacent to the women’s shelter to house homeless men. Once renovations are complete, the building will provide lodging for at least 30 men at a time.
Creating a Community Connection
In 1988, nine founders, including Trinity, developed the idea of establishing a homeless day camp. As a result of that meeting, MCREST was born. By the fall of 1988, 12 churches provided meals and lodging to the homeless. MCREST continued to evolve and today provides meals, lodging, life-skills training, housing assistance, job readiness training, and emergency shelter 365 days each year to Macomb County’s homeless population.
Trinity has supported MCREST for decades by hosting men, women, and children during the week of Christmas. Not only does Trinity provide a place for the homeless to sleep, but the congregation members also provide transportation, toiletries, meals, and activities for the guests. Several churches provide the same experience for the homeless men and women of Macomb County by hosting guests for a week throughout the year.
In recent years, however, the number of churches able to provide the service has declined and MCREST was forced to purchase lodging for the homeless at a nearby motel under a contract to account for the lost space and accommodations made by the churches.
Expanding the Experience
This spring, MCREST opened a women’s shelter at 215 South Main Street in Mount Clemens. After $1.6 million in renovations to the three-story formerly vacant building, it is now equipped to house 45 women and children for up to 90 days. The building has sleeping areas and a Learning and Resource Center—an area where the residents learn life skills and job readiness training and where they can apply for jobs and government benefits. The building also holds the organization’s offices.
When an adjacent property, located at 205 South Main Street, was listed for sale, MCREST considered the space for the men’s shelter. The property would include additional parking and a potential play area for children. It can also be expanded in the future, should the need arise.
Trinity’s Women’s League learned about the opportunity for the men’s shelter and wanted to help. The Women’s League provides financial support to Trinity’s mission partners and funds projects throughout the year. However, for this project, the Women’s League got the backing of the church through a Memorial Trust grant request.
Funding the Future
Trinity’s Memorial Trust Fund is designated to provide long-term and sustaining support for the growth of the congregation’s ministry and outreach. The Women’s League submitted the men’s shelter proposal to Trinity’s Mission Council, which unanimously approved the grant to help MCREST purchase the building.
With the men’s shelter located next to the women and children’s shelter and staff offices, the communication between the MCREST caseworkers and the homeless men will be much easier. In addition, the men will be able to use the Learning and Resources Center for training and job applications as well.
“We are so honored to accept this grant,” said MCREST Director April Fidler. “This gift means that MCREST will not have a mortgage on the building. We will be able to offset that cost and generate funds instead for our programs.”
The shelter won’t open immediately. The space needs to be renovated and set up before it can be occupied. MCREST is in the process of securing funding for the necessary structural renovations and interior furnishings for the building. It is anticipated the building will be in use by January 2023.
Photos courtesy of Rebecca Thomas