Fargo man experiencing homelessness sheds light on importance of local shelters

New Life Center in Fargo is raising awareness about homelessness in our community

FARGO, N.D. — For those without a home, the frigid cold can be a matter of life and death.

Michael’s phone call to the New Life Center in Fargo came after spending weeks out on the streets.

“That phone call was the greatest thing in my life at this time,” he says.

Michael had lost his job after a car accident injured his back so badly he couldn’t walk.

He was in Louisiana at the time, and homeless shelters were closed due to COVID-19. Michael made the trip up from Louisiana to South Dakota and finally back up to Fargo, where he found the New Life Center.

“Before I found out about this place, I was going to try to figure out how to end my life,” he recalls.

Michael and the many others with similar experiences are the reason the New Life Center hosts an annual event called “Tent City.”

Staff members and volunteers camp out overnight to spread awareness about homelessness in our community.

“We don’t do that to pretend that we are homeless, because that would be a tremendous insult to folks who do find themselves in that situation,” explains New Life Center Executive Director Rob Swiers. “It’s purely to raise awareness. It does not take long for someone to die in weather like this.”

Because of the dangerously cold temperatures, this year’s event is canceled, but the need for services is still there.

Michael says, “Most of us people that you see out there on the streets, they ain’t looking for handouts, they’re looking for a hand up.” A hand up is what Giving Hearts Day is all about, and donations are one of the main ways places like the New Life Center can remain open.

“We’re talking about being able to shelter men like Michael, feeding folks in our community, or providing food or clothing,” adds Swiers.

“If it wasn’t for this place right here, I didn’t have no alternatives,” Michael says. “I would’ve been out on the street.”

To donate or learn more about Giving Hearts Day taking place on Thursday, click here.

Categories: Community, Local News