Artist rendering of the new Safe Harbor Shelter, published with permission of Safe Harbor.
New homeless shelter now open
The building has changed, but the mission remains the same. Every year from November through April Safe Harbor offers shelter—a warm, safe place to sleep and a hot meal— to the homeless during the coldest months of the year.
Staffed by a coalition of more than twenty local churches, Safe Harbor is a volunteer organization that relies entirely on donations of food, time, and talent to keep it running. Churches sign up as hosts for a week and provide a hot dinner, a simple breakfast, and resources to supervise the guests. In the past, this involved taking turns sheltering the homeless in their own churches. Guests would sleep on a mat on the floor and eat in the church hall.
All that changed on November 4, when Safe Harbor opened its doors at a new permanent facility on Wellington Street. Over four years in the making, the winter shelter offers five dedicated sleeping areas, including flex rooms for guests with special needs, which can sleep 72 guests. It has hot showers, several washer-dryer units, and a cell phone charging locker for each guest. There is a media room with a television and several computer stations.
Guests can arrive from 5:45 – 7 pm, and must leave the building by 8 am, after a simple continental breakfast.
While churches no longer need to provide shelter, they remain the backbone of the organization. “It takes 167 people to run the shelter each week,” Safe Harbor Director Peter Starkel told the Record Eagle. The churches, in conjunction with Goodwill Inn, provide that staffing.
Our turn is coming up soon. Grace is hosting at Safe Harbor from December 2 – December 9 and volunteers are needed to prepare meals and staff the facility. Dinner and Breakfast teams are in especially short supply. Serving as a Safe Harbor volunteer is a rewarding experience. All shifts at the new facility will be trained and first-timers will be paired with a seasoned volunteer.
If you would like to volunteer, sign up online at https://www.gtsafeharbor.org/signup/ or contact Donna Olendorf (231-947-2330, ex 309).