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Mel Trotter Ministries stands as refuge from rising Grand River
Where do the homeless turn when Grand Rapids floods?
Many of them took shelter at Mel Trotter Ministries, 225 Commerce Ave. SW.
“Any time there’s a crisis in the community weather-wise, people will come into the mission and flock here,” said Rev. Chico Daniels, president and CEO of Mel Trotter. “We did have an influx due to the crisis.”
People move to where it’s dry, Daniels said, and he noticed many of the homeless community in Grand Rapids camping out under bridges as the storm worsened.
In anticipation of flooding, Mel Trotter staff moved the mission’s server and food out of the basement and prepared for evacuation measures, he said.
“We were very proactive in terms of what we were expecting and anticipating. We were prepared to move our male guests out of the mission to higher ground at Guiding Light, our sister mission, and we were going to evacuate our women and children to Red Cross shelters out of the flood zone,” Daniels said.
“God spared us. Fortunately, we didn’t have to resort to any of those measures… Our staff deserve the ‘Saints Award’ for putting up with all of that.”
Hopefully, he said, the flooding will make the community more aware of the homeless and will increase donations to Mel Trotter, which is entirely donor driven and receives no support from the federal government. He said natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes and earthquakes can either work in favor of or against local missions.
“In 2010 (during the Haitian earthquake), we took a 25 percent dip in our donations. We saw quite a reduction in donations at that point,” he said. “It was very painful for us, but we’re here. We’re not going away and we live to keep serving another day.”
Mel Trotter also recently celebrated a successful one-year anniversary of its Day Center, which provides shelter for 100 homeless people. Mel Trotter was able to partner with outside agencies United Way, Salvation Army, Street Reach, Goodwill, DHS and Safe-Link, helping 41 people get jobs, 57 people find housing, and 350 people receive spiritual counseling.
“Our Day Center was and continues to be a fulfillment of Mel Trotter’s vision to provide better services to the chronically homeless,” Daniels said. “We are so pleased to see that after only a year, this vision has seen fruition and will continue to do so. None of this would be possible without the philanthropic community of Grand Rapids and their generosity toward the hurting, hungry and homeless of the greater Grand Rapids area. We are looking forward to seeing what the next year will bring for our Day Center and its guests.”