NORTON SHORES, Mich. (WOOD) — For 35 years, the Church of God in Christ Community Center in Norton Shores has created a safe haven for people in the community to gather and find ways to meet their needs.
This past year, the C.O.G.I.C Community Center lost its founder and leader Bishop Nathaniel Wells Jr. to COVID-19. Now, his daughter Tiffany Alexander is running the center and she’s carrying on that same ministry and legacy: To build the total man, spirit, mind and body.
“He was a lover of people and that’s what he did, he loved people. Not just in words, but in deeds, in actions,” Alexander said about her late father. “All of this is because of him. He was a builder of men and women, children. A great leader.”
That ministry now tries to meet the community where they need it most. The center offers housing help, exercise programs and they have a thrift clothing store — Mary’s Closet — named after Wells’ wife. But food, Alexander says, remains the greatest community need. They have free food on Wednesdays from noon until 2 p.m., giving away five days’ worth to between 150 and 175 families.
They have an on-site food pantry and soup kitchen. Daily, they serve at least 50 people out of their pantry. Alexander says they are constantly growing to get the community what they need.
“We even do some delivering of food,” Alexander said. “We supply clothing. Just trying to house a safe place where children and adults can come and feel safe and feel welcome.”
Alexander says they rely heavily on the funds and donations of community partners and leaders but says the food they are able to supply couldn’t be done without their partnership with Feeding America West Michigan.
“Feeding America has totally been a blessing to us because they supply a lot of our food, especially for our soup kitchen and our food pantry,” Alexander said. “They’ve been a blessing to us through giving, and that’s why we’re able to do what we do for our community.”
The C.O.G.I.C. Center is constantly trying to find new ways to reach their neighbors. They’re now getting a fresh garden set up to help with their food distribution. And they have plans to start a music center too.
Volunteers and funding remain the center’s greatest obstacles. Learn more about those needs and their outreach online.