Safe Harbor program starting Saturday, volunteers still needed

MANISTEE — Lisa Clarke has just one way to categorize everyone who makes up Love INC’s Safe Harbor program, volunteers and guests alike.

“You get to know every single person that comes in and realize it isn’t ‘them,’ it’s us,” she said. “It’s all of us.”

Clarke, Love INC’s Family Services director, coordinates the initiative that has opened doors to the area’s homeless individuals and families during the coldest months of the year — providing meals and shelter at rotating host sites — since 2009.

Safe Harbor begins this year’s installment on Saturday at the New Life Tabernacle, located at 449 Fifth St. in Manistee. Check-in is from 6-8 p.m. while guests must check out by 8 the following morning. Dinner and breakfast will be provided.

“We never know what could cause us to have to go without a home,” she said. “It could happen to any of us. We don’t want anyone sleeping on the streets, so we try to make this feel like family, make everyone feel comfortable.”

In that vein, Clark said she is still seeking volunteers to help run the program through March of 2017. Those interested are asked to visit the Love INC office — 390 River St. in Manistee, room No. 103 — as soon as possible.

“We are in desperate need of volunteers, gatekeepers and overnight staff,” she said. “If they come down to the office, I can give them an application, go over all the things they need to know concerning their duties and get them on the schedule.

“In order to operate, we need to make sure we have every night covered with volunteers.”

Host sites sign up for week-long blocks, and have varied over the years. Clarke said this season will see a mix of new and former sites.

“It’s amazing how God works, because we started off with fewer host sites that signed up,” she said, “but we now have the same amount after several new ones became a part of the program.”

Starting Saturday, the program will be available in the allotted hours every night through April 1. A valid state ID or driver’s license is required for adult guests.

Transportation to and from the host site will also be available to guests, each night at 6 p.m. from Family Dollar, 170 Memorial Drive in Manistee; and from the host site to either Family Dollar or Manistee’s Paine Aquatic Center at 8 a.m. every day.

Clarke said one of the most rewarding parts about coordinating the program has been the friendships.

“A lot of our guests still stop in to say hello, and thank us for the program,” she said. “Every single person that puts any time and effort into this knows what a reward it is.”

Safe Harbor’s scheduled dates and host sites are: 

  • Nov. 19-26: New Life Tabernacle (449 Fifth St., Manistee)
  • Nov. 26 to Dec. 3: To be announced
  • Dec. 3-10: Faith Covenant Church (475 Eighth St., Manistee)
  • Dec. 10-17: New Life Tabernacle (449 Fifth St., Manistee)
  • Dec. 17-24: Manistee ISD (772 E. Parkdale Ave., Manistee)
  • Dec. 24-31: Manistee ISD (772 E. Parkdale Ave., Manistee)
  • Dec. 31 to Jan. 7, 2017: New Life Tabernacle (449 Fifth St., Manistee)
  • Jan. 7-14: United Methodist Church (387 First St., Manistee)
  • Jan. 14-21: To be announced
  • Jan. 21-28: Faith Covenant Church (475 Eighth St., Manistee)
  • Jan. 28 to Feb. 4: New Life Tabernacle (449 Fifth St., Manistee)
  • Feb. 4-11: United Methodist Church (387 First St., Manistee)
  • Feb. 11-18: To be announced
  • Feb. 18-25: Faith Covenant Church (475 Eighth St., Manistee)
  • Feb. 25 to March 3: New Life Tabernacle (449 Fifth St., Manistee)
  • March 4-11: United Methodist Church (387 First St., Manistee)
  • March 11-18: To be announced
  • March 18-25: Faith Covenant Church (475 Eighth St., Manistee)
  • March 25 to April 1: New Life Tabernacle (449 Fifth St., Manistee)

All dates and sites have a check-in time from 6-8 p.m. and check-out time of 8 a.m. the following day.

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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