Permanent location is next step for homeless shelter

January 24, 2012

Volunteers pray before a recent meal at Hospitality INC

By ROB ALWAY editor


LUDINGTON — Hospitality in the Name of Christ (INC) is going through a transition. The rotating homeless shelter started three years ago with the concept that it would provide emergency winter shelter at various local churches, utilizing volunteers.


The organization has now reached a crossroads and is starting the search for a permanent facility.


“It has taken us three years to educate the churches and pastors that there’s a need for a homeless shelter in Mason County,” says Pastor Henrik Lidman, senior pastor of Prayer and Praise Assembly of God and Hospitality INC chaplain. “Currently, we are an emergency facility, providing food and shelter. If we have a permanent facility, we can move beyond that.”


Lidman says a permanent facility will allow the ministry to go beyond shelter and start helping the guests to live self-sufficient lifestyles with permanent housing.


“We are starting to see that there’s a huge need beyond just food and shelter and we may actually not be doing our guests favors by limiting our programming to just those two areas. With a permanent facility, we could provide counseling to the guests and train them how to become productive members of society.


“What we have learned is that we basically have two categories of people who stay at the facility,” Lidman says. “One set are people who have mental health challenges and are unable to make appropriate life choices based on those limitations. The second set, and the majority, are people who are struggling with terrible life patterns and addictions. These people can be trained to change those patterns so they can get jobs, live on their own and make good choices.”


Lidman says one of the biggest needs the facility sees is helping people make good choices with their finances. A permanent facility would mean facilities could be set up to provide financial counseling, among other areas.


Hospitality INC consists of an 8-person board and is supported by 18 area churches. The majority of the shelters are held in Ludington because that is geographically the highest concentration of people. “Out county” churches typically provide volunteers for shelters located in Ludington.


A permanent location would also relieve the strain on the churches and would provide consistency for both guests and volunteers, Lidman says.


Ideally, the shelter would be located close to downtown or at least an area that is accessible by sidewalk. Lidman says the facility could be a house, a commercial building or even a former church.


Though Mason County is a small community, homelessness does exist.


“We have found out that many of these people are basically living in their cars,” Lidman says. “Many of them do have jobs but just can’t get to that next level.”


After three years financial support for the program continues to be strong. “We have not yet had to hold one fund raiser,” Lidman says. “However, we are asking people to pray about the decision of moving into a permanent facility. We will need volunteers who are passionate about this ministry and we will need more financial support.”


For more information about Hospitality INC, you may email program directors Tim and Tammy Martin at Donations may be sent to Hospitality INC, 509 N. Staffon St., Ludington, MI 49431.

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