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Churches Provide Shelter in Michigan

“I didn’t have time to plan my next move; I didn’t have anywhere to go,” recalled Patricia Lofton as she ate dinner at Princeton Christian Reformed Church in Kentwood, Mich.

Evicted from their home, Lofton and her son joined the Family Promise program for about six weeks. Princeton is a host church for Family Promise, which seeks to end homelessness in Grand Rapids, Mich.

“The people here are warm; you can tell they’re big-hearted,” said Lofton. “They are very active with the kids and with us and make us feel welcome.”

Through Family Promise, struggling families rotate among various host congregations, staying at each church for one week. The organization works with families to find housing and jobs while they stay at the churches.

(L-R) Ayden Jackson, Sarah Jackson, and Brianna Jackson spend time at Princeton CRC.

“I couldn’t ask to be around better people,” said Sarah Jackson, who participates in the program with her three kids. “The resources that they offer us and what they do are amazing.”

Each Sunday, Family Promise uses a large truck to deliver beds and mattresses to that week’s host church. Princeton thus transforms its classrooms into bedrooms and its lobby into a dining room when it hosts families once every three months.

“We start out that very first night saying that we hope you’re going to see Christ through us this week,” explained Virginia Vander Wall, a member of Princeton.

During the day, families go to work or continue searching for jobs or housing. At night, they can ride bikes in the church parking lot, play board games, watch movies, or do homework.

“My son loves it; he wants to go to the church every night. He doesn’t want to move into his own place,” chuckled Lofton.

Lofton has since signed a lease to a new house—just down the street from Princeton. “I plan to visit this church; I’m definitely looking for a church home,” she said.

Other host congregations include Calvin CRC, Ivanrest CRC, and Neland Avenue CRC. Brookside CRC, Oakdale Park CRC, and Plymouth Heights CRC also provide support.

About the Author

Ryan Struyk is the Banner's regional news correspondent for classes Grand Rapids South and Thornapple Valley.

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