Helping Our Brothers and Sisters in Need
Are you interested in getting your New Year’s Resolution started before the New Year? Well, here is one charitable activity that could benefit from your help. This article is a first in a series of articles by Tina Woodin. Tina will focus on churches and synagogues and other holy places around town to tell their stories.
Along a busy stretch of road at the corner of Van Dyke and Hall Road in Utica, is a church that has been a source of love and hope to those seeking shelter and a meal for over 12 years. Trinity Lutheran Church, along with other area churches of multiple Christian denominations, serves as host sites for the Macomb County Rotating Emergency Shelter Team or commonly referred to as MCREST. Since forming in 1988, MCREST, a 501c3 nonprofit, has grown from partnering with 12 different congregations to just over 90 participating churches in 2011.
All churches partnering with MCREST provide basic hygiene, meals and shelter on a rotating weekly schedule for those in need across Macomb County. These services are on an emergency basis for individuals and families who have found themselves in need with nowhere else to turn and are provided 365 days a year. Some churches not only provide basis services, but assist in locating possible employment opportunities, provide transportation services, laundry services, and assistance with rent and security deposits.
Trinity Lutheran began its participation with MCREST in 1999 and has a steering committee of 20 people who work each year to plan and raise funds to make their shelter week a success. With a volunteer staff of over 300 they are responsible for setting up, providing meals and other services, and clean up on a 24 hour schedule for an entire week each year.
According to Dan Karlin, Social Ministries Coach at Trinity, the cost for providing a week of shelter for the homeless is approximately $7,000. MCREST provides some basic items such as bedding and towels but the bulk of the cost and items needed are provided by Trinity Lutheran. Within an already busy and vibrant congregation, they need to raise these funds and donations in addition to the financial needs for the other ministry programs they provide at Trinity.
Each winter they hold a soup dinner with a free-will offering and in June they have a “giving tree” where people can donate specific items that are needed. Besides holding these fundraising events, Trinity depends on donations year-round from individuals and sponsors that include money, clothing, food, hygiene products (shampoo, soap, etc.) and laundry detergent. Monetary and other donations can be made directly to Trinity Lutheran at the address below or dropped off during office hours.
Trinity Lutheran Church
45160 Van Dyke
Utica, MI 48317
MCREST also collects donations year-round at their headquarters located at 20415 Erin in Roseville, during regular business hours. Specific donation items in need now at MCREST are diapers, baby wipes, men’s T-shirts, socks, and underwear, gas and phone cards, and $5 gift cards for McDonald’s, Arby’s, or Burger King. They are also in need of shelter week items of twin size blankets, bath towels and washcloths.
MCREST, Trinity Lutheran, and other participating churches are in need of volunteers throughout the year for their many assistance programs offered. Applications to volunteer are available on MCREST’s website at www.mcrest.org for those seeking to make the holidays or any time of the year a better place for those in need. Any church interested in partnering with MCREST to fight homelessness can contact Trish at 586-415-5101 ext. 224. Corporations can also participate by being sponsors and providing donations or holding fundraisers.
With the economic hardships our state and country have seen over the past several years, many who previously would not have thought they could be in a situation to need emergency shelter are now seeking out assistance in record numbers. Let’s make the Christmas season and throughout the year one of hope and love by supporting our brothers and sisters in need in whatever way we are able.