Approximately 200 young people every night are homeless in Kent County, living unsupervised on the streets, in shelters or abandoned buildings, with friends or with strangers. Approximately 43% of runaway homeless youth have reported abuse or neglect…
These are two overwhelming, almost unbelievable statistics.
Especially in West Michigan.
Especially in Grand Rapids.
What is Mel Trotter Ministries doing to address this statistic?
In mid-February the Mission opened its Youth Emergency Shelter (Y.E.S.). The new shelter provides safe and secure overnight refuge to young men, ages 18-24, who are experiencing homelessness. Y.E.S. is intended to be a safety net for young men to meet basic needs, including food, shelter, clean clothing, and bathrooms/showers (photos below). It also connects them with other Grand Rapids-area agencies that have resources to provide youth-specific services. These agencies, including HQ and Arbor Circle, help our guests search for secure, permanent housing, as well as employment.
Why is Y.E.S. important?
Y.E.S. provides resources to fill a significant need in the Grand Rapids area. Our community and our world need this shelter – this demonstration of compassion – to mend its brokenness, to make its dark places light.
“Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.” (Isaiah 58:10 NLT)
Mel Trotter is committed to combining strengths, sharing resources, and working closely with other organizations to better serve the hungry, homeless, and hurting in the greater Grand Rapids area.
Y.E.S. is an example.
The shelter has been at capacity since its opening, and three of the six original guest have committed to entering a job training program.
“I’m feeling more comfortable. Having a better variety, having a place for personal belongings. Having comfortable space without fears. Encouraging others around me that already know me. It has helped me tremendously, a lot, and provided me with comfort day and night and having a shelter waking up fresh and ready to go. I would be on the streets outside in the cold [without this space]. My plan now is to go into the [Mel Trotter] 4×4 program and getting ready to move on in life and getting an apartment and trying to find a job.”
“All I have is one form of identification that has my age on there. They’re willing to help me do something more than that with the [Mel Trotter] 4×4 program. I stayed in motels before I came here. I have nowhere else and I don’t want to sleep outside.”
Adrienne Goodstal, VP of Programs at Mel Trotter Ministries, said this about the new initiative:
“The first night we opened, there were four youth waiting at our door to enter the shelter, and they were overjoyed when they saw the space. One young man said that it would be the warmest, most comfortable bed he’s slept in, in a very long time. He was so happy he thought he might cry. He then asked if we could provide him with a bible because he had lost his along the way.”
Dennis VanKampen, our CEO/Executive Director, shared his thoughts in the video below:
Y.E.S. will provide nightly shelter 7 days a week, 365 days a year, on a first come, first serve basis. This initiative would not be possible without your support. Please join us in changing lives. Give Now.
Are you are a youth male seeking shelter? Want to learn more? Contact us at 616-588-8737 or stop by our mission at 225 Commerce Avenue. View map.
Source: The Homestretch, documentary