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Helping the Jobless and Homeless in West Michigan


Homeless families can find respite at Ivanrest Christian Reformed Church in Grandville, Mich., while parents search for a job and a new place to live.

On a rotating schedule with other area churches, Ivanrest opens its doors every night during its assigned weeks, giving parents and children clean beds, meals, friendship, and a warm atmosphere.

 “They are so kind. If you need medicine, they’ll go get it for you,” said Regina, a homeless guest in July.

Gratitude shines in her eyes and smile, over an evening meal with her son, Keith, 24, who is disabled. The two were evicted when a bank foreclosed on the apartment building where they lived.

Michigan’s 15.2 percent unemployment rate

(as of July) and all-too-frequent bank foreclosures are behind some of the homelessness.

Ashley, a mother of three preschool-age children, was living with friends when the bank foreclosed and they all had to leave.

Leticia and her four children lost their residence when Leticia’s job vanished. “I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for them,” she said of the churches’ assistance.

Carole Pettijohn, ministry director for Ivanrest, said that hosting their guests gives church volunteers insight into the multitude of problems that come with homelessness.

“They allow us to have a glimpse of their lives. It gives us awareness that people who are our neighbors are hurting.”

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