Diane's Story

Diane arrived at Mel Trotter after serving time in prison.   She is a very motivated and driven woman and has an inspiring story:

“I grew up in Chicago in a good environment with great, church going, parents.  I’ve known God since I was a child and I was involved in a lot of activities.  I left home when I was 18, had a daughter and got married.  I had another daughter, got married, got and moved to Atlanta with my youngest daughter.  My other daughter was with her father in Ann Arbor. 

“I would come to Michigan on occasion to visit my in-laws.  I ended up getting involved with the wrong crowd, drinking, and ended up in prison.  I was in prison for several years, but I didn’t waste my time there.  I spent time on the computer doing a graphic design program.

“I was able to get out early on parole.  At the prison they looked for a place for me to go because I didn’t have anywhere to stay.  Someone told me about Mel Trotter and when I was released on August 13, I came here. 

“I had a lot to do when I got to Grand Rapids.  I didn’t know this city, but there are so many nice people here and they helped me get my things together like getting my ID and my Bridge card.  I was able to get my medications taken care of.  Then I started looking for work.  I only had to look for one day and I had a job.  I got a job through Forge working third shift at Heartside Packaging.  It feels wonderful to have a job again, it feels really good knowing that God is proceeding and doing exactly what he said he would do, as long as I be still and let him do it. 

“Not only did I get a job, but I also got to see my daughter for the first time in twenty years!  A friend of mine, Marie, surprised me and took me to see my daughter after church last Sunday.  We’ve been in contact, but I hadn’t seen her in twenty some years.  She was shocked and cried like a baby and I just held her like a baby.  I got to see two of my three lovely granddaughters too. 

“The next step I’ve got to take is to find housing.  I’m looking for a place right now and I’m not going to rest until I find a place.

“When I came to Mel Trotter I expected to get my life back together, to get on the right track and stay on the right track.  I thank Mel Trotter for their time and patience that they put into me and for helping me.  They are such humble and Godly people.  This is such a beautiful place.  I went to see my parole officer on Tuesday and she was amazed by my progress and said, ‘I’ll see you in two months,’ when I’m usually supposed to see her every month.  She said she hasn’t seen someone yet who has come out, taken care of business, and gotten work so quickly – in less than a month.

“God said, ‘Set your goals, make your plan, write it on a tablet, and put it into action.’  That’s what I did.

*Watch Diane's Video here* 

Posted by cindysmies@meltrotter.org at 9:44 AM | 0 comments

With God All Things are Possible

We have one man named Jacob who just got released from jail a few weeks ago and came to Mel Trotter. 

Within that time, he has volunteered to help in the Chapel Team and participated in the All-Night Prayer Meeting. He then began encouraging other men to come to the All Night Prayer Meeting, as well as participating in Bible Studies. Since Jacob has been here, he has already received two job opportunities; one temporary job and one that is more permanent.  

As Jacob is prioritizing his relationship with God as first and foremost the center of his life, the Lord has been opening up doors to him and God is covering him with favor and blessing! God is working through the people around Jacob to bless him as well. He has had offers from people to purchase new clothes for him. A man from Jacob’s Bible Study bought him a brand new pair of shoes, so he has nice things to wear for a new job. Seeing this effect of placing God first in his life has ignited a fire for Christ in Jacob.

Jacob is one man at our shelter that we see choosing to live a life for Christ. It is incredible to watch this transformation and see God move in Jacob’s life.

Please continue to partner with us in prayer as more men come forward to be discipled, and transformed by the renewing love of Christ!


Rob Johnson

Men’s Chaplain

*Jacob’s name has been changed. All other aspects of this story are true!*

Posted by cindysmies@meltrotter.org at 4:11 PM | 0 comments

Handling the Panhandler

We’ve all seen the cardboard signs, some more creative than others.  “Homeless.  Anything helps.  God Bless,” but then there are those that are slightly more creative and sometimes evoke a smile, or a couple of dollars, like the one I saw near my house a few weeks ago, “If you’re happy and you know it, give me money.”  Since the ban on panhandling was lifted about a year ago, it’s almost impossible to drive anywhere without seeing someone flying a sign.  It’s not just by the bridges and exit ramps downtown, but in the affluent suburbs, the places you would least expect to see someone claiming to be homeless. 

Some people quickly roll down their window as they scrounge for change in the ashtray of their car or reach into their pocket for a couple of bills.  Others refuse to make eye contact and grip the steering wheel as they stare at the traffic light waiting for it to change.  When we encounter despair in such raw form, it evokes a variety of emotions; doesn’t it?  When we’re sitting at that red light, we all feel something:  sadness, guilt, generosity, pity, judgment, disgust, compassion.  We wonder if they really need help.  We wonder how loosely we should interpret the term “homeless.”  And for those of us that are familiar with the myriad of social services available in our non-profit mecca of a city, we wonder why these people don’t seek help and choose to live a more purposeful and fruitful life.

To appease these emotions and questions some of us quickly find money before the light turns green, hear a “God bless you,” from the recipient, and drive away satisfied that we, did what we could.  I’ve done it too.  Countless times I have heard people making statements along the lines of, “What they do with their money is between them and God, I just want to help.” I’ve said it too. But when does helping hurt?

We simultaneously question the truth behind the cardboard as we pass out a few quarters- but does that solve anything more than our own conscience? Are we helping or just making ourselves feel good? Do these panhandlers question our motives as we question theirs?

Here’s what I do know:
Recently I heard of people living in the woods not far from my house.  A few friends and I decided to take some bottles of water and granola bars and go exploring.  We found what we were looking for, an encampment of about 20 – 25 people!  Some simply took a bottle of water and said thank you, some let us know they didn’t want to be judged or preached at; and some welcomed us into their campsite and talked for a bit.  We asked questions and listened to stories.  One guy hates his kids and wants nothing to do with them, another wants to get a job and a house so that he can reunite with his kids and be a good dad.  One guy just got a job and was looking forward to starting in a few days; one lady is just waiting for her social security to kick in.  Some people were content to camp by the river for half the year; others were there because they had no other place to go. 

I asked questions and got answers.  I want to help, but before I help, I want to know someone’s name.  I want to know their story.  I want to know their joys and sorrows.  Only then will I know how to properly help them, instead of hurt them. 


ps Watch this video, because it sends a pretty clear message as to how we see panhandlers, and how God sees them as His children:

*Michelle is Mel Trotter's Career and Education Superisor, and has a huge heart for the poor, turtles and mostly just for the Lord!*


Posted by cindysmies@meltrotter.org at 11:43 AM | 0 comments

Golf Marathon Photo Recap

This year, our Golf Marathon of Hope was a great success!

A special thank-you to all of our participants and sponsors. None of this event would take place without all of your support and prayers.

Very special Thank-Yous go out to Railside Golf Club, Rockford Construction, and Cumulus Broadcasting!

Enjoy these pictures, and let them tie you over until next years event!


Posted by cindysmies@meltrotter.org at 11:12 AM | 0 comments

Leaving a Legacy

There is a verse in Micah that we love here at Mel Trotter. It’s a simple verse to recite, a simple verse to write, and a simple verse to remember. What’s not always so simple- living it out. Micah 6:8 says “…to act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Your God.” This isn’t a suggestion, this isn’t a off-the-top-of-my-head idea, this is a demand. It’s a calling for all believers that chose to follow and live the life that God has called His creation to have.

The depth that verse exemplifies for a Christian life, is the exact reason we have chosen it as the Scripture passage dedicated to our newly renovated Men’s Chapel. If you had ever been to the men’s chapel pre-renovation you remember a few things, the dark cave-like atmosphere and more so, the smell. At Mel Trotter, redoing the men’s chapel became a necessity and because of the generosity of Christ-followers that live out Micah 6:8, like Bob and Betty Kregel, we were able to renovate this part of the building.

The remodeling allowed us to create a bright, warm room with nothing taking away from the focus of Christ for any Chapel service held within its walls. This new Chapel would now be the place where we could inspire God’s Children to seek after God’s Heart, and then, then we would allow God to teach us “to act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly” with our Father God.


The process wasn’t all clean and smooth, but with the helping hands of many, we can now say that the Men’s Chapel has been completed and dedicated as the Bob and Betty Kregel Chapel.


These are just a few picture from the Dedication Service where the Kregel family blessed us with their presence and acceptance of this present in honor of their parents!










Thank again to City Life Choir for bringing the gift of music with them!



Posted by at 2:00 PM | 0 comments

Beer City USA?

A few weeks ago, our friends at WZZM-13 posted an intriguing entry on their Facebook page:

“Hi viewers: We know Grand Rapids has garnered the title Beer City USA, but with the rise of all the craft breweries in West Michigan, is there anyone struggling with alcohol, knows someone struggling with alcohol, or has lost someone to the disease that ever feels uncomfortable with all the press? Or the number or new places that celebrate beer?
Share your opinion.”

Share our opinion? We’ll do our best.
Does Mel Trotter Ministries know of anyone struggling with alcohol? It isn’t a surprise that our answer is a confident: Yes! Our mission is full of people struggling, or who have struggled with alcohol abuse. We have heard countless stories from the residents in our SAVE program, a Residential Substance Abuse program, that not only come from homes where they began to abuse alcohol at the age of thirteen, but this use was encouraged by parents who were also victims of alcohol abuse. These stories show us that the constant availability encouraged those with alcohol problems to continue its consumption.

At the Mission, we are striving to set people free from their dependency, and this is made more challenging with the proliferation of public breweries. Is alcohol inherently bad? No. It was the Apostle Paul that told Timothy to use wine for a medicinal purpose, (I Timothy 5:23 “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.”) In a perfect world, alcohol consumption would not lead to alcohol abuse, however, we live in a fallen and sinful world where substance abuse runs rampant; and responsible drinking or responsible freedom is not the norm. Although Paul believed wine could be used to ease an achy stomach, his main message on alcohol comes from Ephesians 5:18, where he says “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit…” Being filled with the Spirit is what we will dedicate our Mission to accomplishing.

How will we fight the abuse and misuse of alcohol at Mel Trotter? Our PI Center, or Center for Public Inebriates, is a shelter where those that are highly intoxicated can seek shelter and get medical attention if needed; and therefore saving the hospitals attention and money for those that are in more serious need. In January and February in 2013 alone, our PI Center has seen 237 guests. That’s about 4 highly intoxicated individuals a day!

So we won’t be the experts on this matter, but that’s our opinion. We’ll leave it to you to decide whether more avenues of alcohol consumption in Grand Rapids are a good idea for the community or not.

In Christ,



We are truly blessed with Alice, one of our nurses, as her serving heart shows these PI guests the love of Christ!

Posted by at 10:24 AM | 0 comments

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