Emergency shelters open as arctic temps grip W. MI

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Monday’s frigid temperatures are sparking a “Code Blue” by Mel Trotter Ministries, which is opening an emergency shelter for people without a warm place to stay.

The overnight emergency shelter at 225 Commerce Ave. SW will be open from 4 p.m. to 7 a.m., according to the organization. Mel Trotter is also opening a warming center from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. so people can stay all day and night, if needed.

“We’re not going to leave anybody outside,” Rev. Leonard McElveen, vice president of ministry outreach at Mel Trotter, told 24 Hour News 8.

The “Code Blue” also means the nonprofit is waiving its curfew, accepting people even in the middle of the night, and allowing in people who have been previously banned.

“We don’t want a bad decision that someone has made to cost them their lives,” McElveen said. “What we’re trying to do is make a difference and save lives in Grand Rapids. Because this weather, if you stay outside, you’re probably going to die.”

Degage Ministries is also extending its hours to help more people stay out of the potentially dangerous cold. Its day center at 144 S. Division Ave. will be open from 7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Additionally, the following locations host warming centers:

On Monday, outside Matthew’s House on Grand Rapids’ West Side, 24 Hour News 8 found staffers handing out food in the frigid cold.

“If doesn’t make any difference what the temperature is. The need is there,” Matthew’s House Pastor George Werkema told 24 Hour News 8.

Every weekday, the ministry takes donated food and gives it to the hungry and the homeless. They can’t afford to stop just because the temperatures have plunged.

“The work just continues on,” Werkema said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold, you’re still hungry and you need to eat.”

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The cold weather is amplifying a problem that Mel Trotter says is already in West Michigan: a homeless crisis caused by a shortage of shelter for families. Those who have no place to stay are encouraged to reach out for assistance by calling 211.

Mel Trotter relies heavily on donations. Information on how to give can be found on the organization’s website.

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