GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — For someone experiencing homelessness, something as simple as a comfortable place to sleep on can make a big difference.
At Mel Trotter Ministries in downtown Grand Rapids, there’s a space that used to be known as the overflow room: A place used when winters got extreme, allowing more people to seek Mel Trotter for shelter.
Dennis VanKampen, CEO of Mel Trotter Ministries, says for the last two years, they’ve been using the overflow room all year around. He says the shelter has seen more women seeking emergency shelter and that has meant mattresses being on the floor.
Thursday, the sound of saws and nail guns baning gave way to a more comfortable place to sleep at night.
Twenty-nine brand new bunk beds will elevate women experiencing homelessness, both body and spirit.
“Just bringing them up off the floor adds a level of dignity that they probably have not felt in a long time,” Mary Engle, Director of Programs at Mel Trotter Ministries said. “It’s like their own space. It provides them again, that active dignity that they are of value and that’s what we want to portray to them — they are of value.”
The project has been in the works for weeks. Mel Trotter Ministries set a goal for $25,000 and the community responded with $50,000. The extra money will go to upgrade bedding at the shelter.
“The number one thing we provide to the people that experiencing homelessness is safety and shelter, so no one has to be on the streets (and) no one has to die on the streets. They can make a choice and they can come in here,” VanKampen said.
Builders from Next Step of West Michigan, a group that employs men and women re-entering society from prison, partnered with Mel Trotter to build the beds. They provide a gift of hope for the women who will lay their heads there tonight.
“For them to be able to see that they now have beds that they can lay on, that they don’t have to get down on the floor (and that) they don’t have to try and get themselves back up — I’m so excited,” Engle said.