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New Emergency Shelter Gets Vulnerable Youth Off The Street

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Mel Trotter Ministries

A new youth Emergency Shelter is up and running, providing a refuge for young males who are homeless. Mel Trotter Ministries just opened the “Youth Emergency Shelter” a couple of weeks ago to help those in need.

“ A lot of these youths that we’re seeing, something tragic happened in their life, where they no longer have a mom, dad, or family at home.”

Mel Trotter Ministry officials say on any given night in Grand Rapids there can be up to 200 youth that have no place to call home.

“They may be sleeping under a bridge - frankly they may be doing some things we don’t want them to do and trade for a perceived safe place to sleep. So it really is a big problem here in West Michigan.”

Dennis VanKampen is the CEO of Mel Trotter Ministries.  He says they’re working with other groups that serve young males, like Arbor House and HQ.  Their role is to provide the housing piece - to address a gap in community emergency shelter space. 

Two weeks ago Mel Trotter opened the Youth Emergency Center, or Y.E.S.  It’s a separate space for men ages 18 to 24.  It provides shelter, meals, a clean bed and a shower.

“It’s so amazing to watch some of these kids come in. They’re on the street, they portray a  tough attitude and then they lay in a soft bed and some get tears saying, 'I can’t remember the last time I was lying in a soft bed when it was safe.'”

VanKampen says for now it’s a six bed, pilot program. The young men can stay up to 30 days. 

The goal is to get them into permanent housing as soon as possible.

Jennifer is an award winning broadcast news journalist with more than two decades of professional television news experience including the nation's fifth largest news market. She's worked as both news reporter and news anchor for television and radio in markets from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo all the way to San Francisco, California.
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