Hospitality INC, volunteers are key

January 18, 2012

Volunteers pray before dinner Tuesday night. From left: Gloria Merchant, Christine Thompson, Jim Merchant, Tammy Martin and Larry Lange.

By ROB ALWAY, editor

LUDINGTON — Tuesday was not a night to be outdoors. An early morning rain turned into snow mid-morning which continued into the early evening, when the wind picked up.

But, not everyone has a place to stay indoors. That’s where Hospitality in the Name of Christ (INC) has been a blessing on so many. In it’s third year, the homeless shelter rotates every week or two weeks to a different church. The 14 host churches are typically in Ludington because the majority of those in need live in the county’s largest town, however 19 county churches are participating in Hospitality INC.

Jim and Gloria Merchant of Ludington are two of the many volunteers that make the shelter a success. They are members of Prayer and Praise Assembly of God, 509 N. Staffon St., Ludington, which is hosting the shelter this week and next.

“It really makes you appreciate what you have,” Gloria said. “It makes me feel good to help others in any little way I can. Tonight, there’s a really bad winter storm and there are people who need a place to stay. It’s just good to know that they have such a place.

“Everybody gets down on their luck. In the past I was down in my luck. I have never been homeless but I was a widow trying to raise kids and I had a lot of help from others. I want to give back what I can and this is one way I can do that. It’s nice to receive but it’s even nicer to give back. I know the guests here are going to do the same thing for someone else some day.”

Volunteers Christy Sniegowski, left, Gloria Merchant and Christine Thompson pass food to volunteer Jim Merchant.

The purpose of the shelter is to provide an emergency shelter for those in need. Overnight guests are provided an evening meal, a cot, showers and a light breakfast. They are not allowed to stay at the shelter during the day. Their backgrounds and situations are diverse.

Larry Lange of Ludington is one of seven shelter coordinators. Lange is a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church on North Rowe Street in Ludington. His role is to assist the volunteers to make sure the nightly duties run smoothly.

“I’m kind of a supervisor. I help out the volunteers as needed, but it’s really each church’s program.”

Lange said many of the churches are hosting the shelter for two weeks in a row. Often, one of the “out county” churches will provide volunteers for one of the weeks at a Ludington church.

“One of the amazing things about Hospitality INC, in addition to providing shelter for those in need, is that it has been a way for area churches to come together,” said Pastor Henrik Lidman of Prayer and Praise. Lidman is also Hospitality INC’s chaplain.

The shelter started in November and will continue until April.






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