Churches United Showing Off Changes Made Over Past Year in Open House
They homeless shelter opens its space to the public every other year
MOORHEAD, Minn. — Of all the different ages, genders and races that sleep over at Churches United on any given night, there’s one thing they can all relate to.
“The one common denominator that we have found in everybody who comes here is the lack of support systems,” said Babs Coler, chief development officer at Churches United.
It’s something the staff at the shelter has a hard time grappling with.
“To have a grandma here that can’t bake cookies for her grandkids or can’t have her grandkids come over or those kids of that person not having a place to call home anymore…I just can’t imagine not being able to go home,” Coler said.
People from all over the metro are now touring the shelter to understand just how much of that support Churches United provide to the homeless in our area.
“People are surprised at the programming that we do here and all the work that is being done here,” Coler said.
Over the past year, Churches United has opened Bright Sky Apartments, which offers permanent housing, merged with Dorothy Day homeless shelter, increased from 21 to 51 employees and expanded from one building to five.
The work is already paying off.
“Bounce backs are down significantly. I think in the past year, rolling year, we’ve had three that have come back,” Coler said.
Coler says it’s donors who have helped to make this possible and it’s why the shelter will continue to need support in creating permanent housing.
“It’s really important that everybody understand the work that’s being done and how it’s impacting our community,” she said.
Coler says for the everyday community member who just wants to get involved at the shelter, it’s all about connecting with the people who walk through its doors every day.
“Come have a meal. Sit down next to somebody you don’t know and have a conversation. I think that’s a great step to understanding what folks are going through. All of us need someone to go to and someone to listen to them,” Coler said.
Churches United puts on an open house every other year.
Dorothy Day and the food pantry also had open houses this afternoon.