“It was nothing at all like I expected!”
“Where is your need?” were Gary’s first words on coming to volunteer at Mel Trotter Ministries. When he was assigned to check guests into the Youth Emergency Shelter (Y.E.S.), Gary said God encouraged him to stare down the stigmas of homelessness in Grand Rapids.
“I had nightmares that I was going to see drug deals happen, I was going to get shot, just crazy stuff. I came down here and found that it was nothing at all like that. The young men are here for a purpose and they’re very respectful. I’ve enjoyed sitting down and talking with them.”
Since it opened on February 15, 2016, the Y.E.S. has served more than 90 individual young men, ages 18 to 24, who were experiencing homelessness. During that time, 24 of those young men went directly from the shelter into Mel Trotter’s job readiness program. Most of the remaining guests who used the shelter found housing.
“I have the best hopes and wishes for all of them, but you can see that certain ones really have the desire to get back on their feet,” said Gary. “When I see those guys, I think, ‘I want to fuel that fire and help them any way that I can.’” Gary is taking his volunteer duties to the next level and is trying to connect guests with a construction industry training program.
Gary had been going through some personal challenges before he decided to volunteer. He testified that serving in Y.E.S. has changed his heart. “I’m embarrassed to admit that I
was scared to come down here. It was a lot easier to only give money and to say I’m doing the right thing, but it’s a lot more fulfilling to have skin in the game and be involved in people’s lives,” he said.
Are you feeling called to serve? There is a place for you and your passion at MTM. Visit meltrotter.org/volunteer to browse through opportunities.