Downtown shelter fills up quickly

April 11, 2016
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Mel Trotter Shelter
Mel Trotter Ministries' Youth Emergency Shelter has six beds available seven nights a week, 365 days a year on a first-come, first-served basis. Courtesy Mel Trotter

A local faith-based nonprofit is already seeing its newest downtown addition pay dividends.

Mel Trotter Ministries in Grand Rapids opened its Youth Emergency Shelter in mid February, and within two weeks, the shelter was at capacity.

The shelter, located at Mel Trotter’s rescue mission at 225 Commerce Ave. SW, provides a safe overnight refuge for males between 18 and 24 who are homeless.

“By providing emergency shelter to young men during a traumatic season in their lives, we are able to continue fulfilling our vision to end homelessness one life at a time,” said Dennis Van Kampen, CEO, Mel Trotter Ministries.

A fresh start

The new shelter has six beds available seven nights a week, 365 days a year on a first-come, first-served basis, and visitors to the shelter will be provided with clothes, toiletries, meals and a shower.

After being provided with immediate needs, guests are connected with agencies that have the resources to provide youth-specific services to help them move forward with securing permanent housing and employment.

“Mel Trotter has an ongoing commitment to combine strengths, share resources and to work closely with other organizations to produce a greater impact on underserved populations,” Van Kampen said.

Guests also have access to join a medication therapy management program, and within the first three weeks of the shelter’s opening, three guests opted to enter a job-training program at Mel Trotter.

Local need

The shelter was born out of a local need for more youth-centered shelters.

Mel Trotter said many young homeless men don’t always feel comfortable staying in shelters with an older male population and wind up staying in unsafe environments at night.

Each aspect of the Youth Emergency Shelter was driven by feedback from the young male population about their specific needs.

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