Homeless shelter in need of more volunteers.

November 20, 2018


Homeless shelter in need of more volunteers.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

LUDINGTON — Hospitality In the Name of Christ (INC), a winter emergency homeless shelter for men, has entered into its ninth season. Located in the former Bethany Lutheran Church (now the Salvation Army) at 1101 S. Madison St., the program relies on volunteers to keep going. While most nights are filled, there is a need for more help.

“Ideally, we would like 28 regular teams,” coordinator Tammy Martin said. “That would be one team for each day of the month and then on the fifth days we would have some teams double up or additional teams that could help out.”

While many of the volunteer teams come from local churches, there are other organizations and companies that also commit teams.

Tammy Martin checks in a guest.

The non-profit organization was formed in 2009 through the cooperation of local Christian churches with the intent of operating during the colder months. Originally, the shelter rotated to different churches in Ludington. Five years ago, it stayed permanently at its present location, operating from early November until late April. Last year, the organization made the decision to restrict guests to male only.

“It was a good decision,” Martin said. “It was the right decision. It was tough at first for a lot of our volunteers. But, as the season went on, they agreed and many said it was the best decision we had made. We had many more male guests, and we felt that there were men who were willing to move forward as opposed to getting caught up in relationships with females. A lot of the females who were coming here were doing so because their boyfriend was coming here, not because they themselves were homeless. We actually had a couple get married here. He never really seemed to make any progress.”

Martin said there are other programs in Ludington that offer services to women, such as Jericho House. Women who are in an abusive situation can find shelter at COVE. Statistically, she said, women have an easier time finding shelter with friends or family.

Though the organization redirected itself to service only men, it remains a Christ-centered ministry.

“Every night we have what we call a family meeting from 8 to 8:30 p.m.,” Martin said. “During that time we go over the rules of the shelter, the responsibility of chores, and we have a chaplain come in and lead a devotional.”

The shelter opens each night at 5:30 p.m. Dinner is served between 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Guests need to be checked in by 8 p.m. A volunteer checks the guests bags and medications are locked up. If guests are working and will arrive later, they need to make arrangements. Guests must stay the night. Breakfast is served between 7 to 7:30 a.m. and then guests must leave for the day after that.

“The amount of volunteers varies each night,” Martin said. “Ideally, we like to have four volunteers spend the night, this allows them to take two hour shifts. We also need people to bring in dinner and serve it, and also bring in breakfast and serve it.”

Martin said the facility is set up to sleep 28, with the ability to add more bedding if needed. On average this season, there are typically eight to 10 guests.

Chris is in his second year at the shelter. He said he said when the shelter isn’t open, he will normally live out of his car. “I had a job last year at a local factory. It was going really good and then I had a real bad dizzy spell. I couldn’t operate the machine and they let me go. I was actually going to quit anyway. I’m on disability now but can’t afford housing. The shelter gives me a roof over my head, a meal and a bed. Otherwise, I don’t have that.”

Monty was sent to the Ludington shelter from his probation officer in Oceana County. He said he has been able to get a job at a local factory and is trying to get his life in order. “I’m trying to find a place to live permanently but it’s a challenge.”

Martin said she knows the shelter does have a positive impact on many of its guests. Monty, for example, has been attending church on a regular basis.

“There’s so much more that could be done,” Martin said. “We are always looking for volunteers, which puts us in what I call ‘emergency mode’. But, I know that with the right people we could help many of these guys move into a better place in their lives.”

Martin said individuals, companies, organizations or churches that wish to volunteer or donate may contact her at 231-510-4591.

Editor’s note: Hospitality INC is a non-profit organization. It is housed at Salvation Army but is not affiliated with Salvation Army. Martin said the organization has been very appreciative of its relationship with Salvation Army and its past relationship with Bethany Lutheran Church.

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