Guest post from
Rachel Bush, Deacon at Ann Arbor CRC and coordinator of Covid-19 Shelter
Hi all! I feel like it’s been a while since I updated you on the vulnerable men sheltering at the Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church. Today is day #54 of having the men at the church!
During this time many things have shifted based on the direction of the health department, etc. Other off-site locations for the men have closed due to being too communal (ie everyone sleeping in one room, albeit spread out), men have been moved to a hotel, greatly reducing the number of homeless at the downtown center to safe levels. Two other churches even started hosting men a couple weeks ago, but just this week these men were also moved to the hotel when more rooms there were secured through the county. But one thing has remained constant: the AACRC site remained open and operating for the men to remain in place.
The stability of remaining in one location all day for so many weeks means that the Delonis staff and case workers have been able to work more closely with these men on progressing through goals set up for each person. Goals to dig more deeply into health issues (securing necessary prescriptions for diabetes, etc); goals to get better treated and, when necessary, medicated for mental health issues; goals to work on paperwork for social security benefits; goals to get out job applications or even finish high school; goals to secure permanent housing.
The church currently has a very “group home” feel. The men have had to learn to live together with others. They all participate in a schedule of maintaining the facilities. They take turns helping to get breakfast, lunch and dinner together. They all clean dishes. They maintain our pop-up clothing donation area. A horseshoe pit has been set up in the lawn. The church grill gets a lot of use. The zero gravity camp chairs are a favorite.
We are also the only site which provides groceries and home cooked meals three times a day. All other sites are being supported by the food service of Eastern Michigan University. These home cooked meals do wonders for the men’s mental health. Not only do they get hearty portion sizes, but they know that in order for them to receive these meals others are actually thinking about and caring for them. That is the main comment I hear when I’m on-site: “we feel loved and seen”.
We will have the men for a couple more weeks. A final move out date is still unknown. Many people have asked how they can still help. The main need is for people to prepare a main course in their own home to bring in. Please see this link for more information.
Thank you, all! It has taken a village to support these men. I feel so blessed have been a part of this great community.