Human resources

Grand Rapids nonprofits offering resources, community this winter

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan (WOOD) – As the weather changes in Western Michigan, so do the needs of the community.

Some Grand Rapids nonprofits have resources to help people during the winter months.


Non-profit Mel Trotter Ministries provides overnight shelter for those in need.

Mel Trotter recently opened a new overflow site, located on Cherry Street. The space has a maximum capacity of 75 beds and acts as a warming center during the day.

Adrienne Goodstal, Head of Engagement and Advocacy at Mel Trotter Ministries, said it has been a great success so far.

Inside the Mel Trotter Ministries overflow shelter on S. Division Avenue in Grand Rapids. (Dec 7, 2021)

The non-profit organization operates many other shelters, such as their Men’s Shelter, Women’s Shelter, and the Pathway Home Family Shelter program. It also offers a public intoxicated shelter for very drunk people, an emergency shelter for young people and the R&R space for transgender people.

When the weather gets particularly cold, Mel Trotter switches to “Code Blue”.

“Code blue really means that anyone who may not have been able to receive services before, that that is lifted, so that they can come in and receive the services, we lift all of our curfews, so that people can access an emergency shelter anytime in the evening, ”Goodstal said.

Information on the different shelters managed by Mel Trotter can be found at that of the organization website.

Clearance Ministries, located at 144 South Division, provides overnight shelter for up to 80 women.

“At this time of year, we really want to make sure the people we serve have a warm and safe place,” said Thelma Ensink, Executive Director of Degage Ministries. “It’s really important, to make sure they have a warm and safe place to sleep.”

Degage Ministries offers ways to help people find housing. The non-profit organization strives to provide services such as transportation to jobs or housing appointments, Ensink said.

“(We) continue to help as many people as possible move forward to housing to have a place of their own during this time,” she said.

Degage also manages a boiler room for all those who need it from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. Anyone can stop by the Degage Warming Center to have a cup of coffee and be in community with others, Ensink says.

To access the other resources it offers, head up to the Life Enrichment Center on the second floor. There you can meet an advocate to help you get the resources you need.


From October until the end of December, Mel Trotter launched his Code Blue Drive, looking for hot items like coats, hats, boots and gloves.

“We partner with various churches and other businesses and things like that, to collect items like warm hats and hand warmers and insulated socks and warm waterproof gloves and all those kinds of items that are so needed. during the winter months for our customers, “said Goodstal.” We really want to make sure that we have the items that people need and that they are easily accessible to them. “

She said if you need warm clothes ask a case manager or staff member.

“Our resources are available to anyone who needs them,” she said. “They can ask one of our case managers or one of our other staff when they arrive, and then we’ll go in and get the item they need. “

Mel Trotter is still accepting donations and they need items until the spring. Their website has a list of current needs.

“We rely solely on the support from our community to help us meet the needs. So we just want to thank everyone in advance for helping us get through this winter, ”Goodstal said.

Goodstal said that when you see homeless people on the streets, keep in mind the resources they offer.

“We go out and do outreach activities, especially during the cold and chilly evenings, to make sure people who are living without shelter have access to our warming center and emergency shelters,” she said. declared.


Degage manages many programs such as their dining room, their hygiene facilities and their hot food offer.

“We are always on the lookout for donations from the community,” Ensink said. “We especially need these gloves, hats, hand warmers, boots and coats, so all of these donations are really important. “

Ensink says part of his job at Degage Ministries is “to meet the needs of the community.”

“But I also have this wonderful opportunity to speak directly to the people we serve, to hear their stories, to learn that we are all only a few steps away from experiencing homelessness ourselves,” he said. she declared.

She said the community needs to make sure people are warm and safe this winter.

“I think it’s really important to remember that not all of us enjoy the colder months or have a hard time being outdoors. It’s especially difficult for the people we serve, for the homeless, ”Ensink said.

In addition to donating hot items, you can also donate monetary donations. Almost all of the association’s budget comes from individual donors.


Non-profit Urban Family Ministries works to build relationships with families in Grand Rapids.

Their programs are aimed at children and, along the way, build relationships with the whole family, said Noelle Gable, program director for Urban Family Ministries.

She said they also have the connections to help connect people with the resources they need.

“Connecting people to resources… we’re not necessarily giving away anything,” Gable said. “We don’t pay rent, we don’t help pay utility bills, but we know the resources available that help with these things. So, we try to connect our families to that too. “

She said one of the greatest needs of families this winter is help with educating children, as some have fallen behind due to COVID-19. Gable said Urban Family Ministries helps them connect with resources like guardians.

She also said the children would “starve” for a face to face connection.

“We are trying to continue our programs after taking the year of COVID, we started this fall with face to face programming,” she said.

The association also offers a poverty simulation to help people understand it better. Everything in the simulation is based on real examples.

“I can put a name and a face to every situation that we talk about and go through in this simulated poverty,” Gable said.

It takes a few hours to pass.

If you want to get involved in Urban Family Ministries, you can volunteer Where make a donation.

“We can’t do what we do if we don’t have people who believe in what we’re doing and support us financially,” Gable said.

If you do volunteer work, Gable said your children are welcome.

“If you want to get involved, bring your whole family. If you have younger kids, bring your kids. They participate in the program that you volunteer and that helps them take advantage of that diversity, ”she said. “Naturally build this relationship with the child, the family and then you can support this whole family. “

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