For our September GIVE Project, the Klingel Homes Team took a trip to the People Center of Spring Lake. We were privileged to meet with their Director, Karen Reenders. We got to tour their facility, and hear about what they do for our community.
The People Center is focused on helping people who are in a financial crisis. It is a place designed to provide a safe haven for people of the area to come, be heard, and receive practical assistance in an atmosphere of dignity and trust. In times of emergency, they provide food, clothing, and temporary housing to people in our community.
The People Center encourages families and individuals toward independence, so they designed their organization in a way that allows people to receive the help they need, without becoming dependent on the organization. They look at everyone coming in, try to define their needs, and ask “what do we have to do to get them back on their feet?” Their goal is to get clients to where they can survive on their own without anyone else’s help.
People in times of emergency can come and receive a 3-day supply of food, up to 4 times per year. When asked if their food pantry has been busy this year, Karen said: “We’re actually less busy now than we were last year at this time. In 2009 the need for food skyrocketed, and we couldn’t keep up. This is the first year since 2009 that we’ve seen a decline in the need for food. But we’re still busier than we ever were before 2009. In 2009 the need in our community was immense. My volunteers couldn’t keep up; we had a line out the door 25 people deep, the need for food was just incredible.”
The People Center also provides free clothing to their clients of all ages, and even allows people who are involved with the Work First Program, who are interviewing for a job to come in and receive free clothes for their interview. We asked Karen how much clothing they give away, and she replied: “It goes out as quick as it comes in! Our volunteers just keep the best of the best donations, so if a piece of clothing is questionable, stained, or out of style, it’s gone. Our volunteers only keep beautiful things.”
If a family or individual is struggling with debt or housing, the People Center has amazing programs to help them get back on their feet. The People Center has 6 apartments that allow eligible clients to live rent and utility free for up to 6 months, allowing them time to save money and get out of debt. The center encourages anyone staying in their apartments to go to the City of GH Financial Empowerment Center. The Financial Empowerment Center provides classes help people to get out of debt, and get their finances in order so they will be able to buy a home in the future. Some people have even been ready to purchase a home immediately after they leave the people center apartments!
The People Center is truly driven by the volunteers who come and give of their time each week. They have a team of over 60 volunteers who sort clothing, shop for food, and run the front desk, among other things. The People Center is always looking for more volunteers that are willing to give some of their time to benefit their community. Currently they’re even looking for someone to take over the care of their vegetable garden. So if you, or anyone you know is passionate about gardening, please contact the People Center!
When asked what the People Center’s greatest need is, Karen told us: “The People Center’s greatest need is consistent food donations.” So if you are interested in donating food or clothing items, or becoming a partner, please call them at 616-844-6710, and they can tell you what they currently need most, so that you can help them as best as possible!
We are so excited about what the People Center is doing for our community, and we hope you will be too!