Rotating homeless shelter in the works for Isabella County; will open in January

The homeless of Mount Pleasant will soon have further protection from the frigid cold of winter with the assistance of the Isabella County Restoration House.

The ICRH met Thursday with about 50 local citizens to discuss fundraising, but it primarily wished to inform the community of its plans.

“Homelessness is a very real and complex problem in Isabella County,” said ICRH co-chair Travus Burton.

Burton discussed the three main phases that have been planned for the organization.

The first would be a rotating shelter that starts Jan. 1 and is intended to last potentially as late as March. This shelter would operate seven days a week, include an evening meal and potentially provide some form of entertainment for the homeless who stay there.

As of tonight, 10 churches have agreed to assist in the rotation program, and ICRH said it was confident six more nearby churches would be able to commit.

However, ICRH Treasurer Charlie Burke said the organization and the committed churches are in need of manpower and contemplative college students should not hesitate to help.

“If you spend a week getting to know the people who show up at these shelters, many are high school graduates, have had jobs and obviously are not an alcoholic or drug addict,” he said.

The homeless in Isabella County, Burke said, are no different from any other person.

“I once talked with a woman and she burst into tears,” Burke said. “She told me, ‘I’m so embarrassed I have to be here.’ She had lost her job and gotten divorced. She had absolutely nothing. These are the people we are helping, the vast, vast majority here are like that woman.”

ICRH’s rotation program is only set to occur this year.

For the future, the non-profit intends on being able to purchase a temporary facility in order to more efficiently assist the homeless. This phase is currently planned to last one to two years beginning in late 2014.

The end goal of the ICRH is a single facility that could serve as everything from a temporary shelter to a job searching center.