Homeless shelter program reflects on banner winter season

Homeless shelter program reflects on banner winter season

MARQUETTE — The departure of harsh winter temperatures, at least for now, has eased the burden on homeless residents. The Marquette area’s homeless shelter program is using this time to take stock of a banner winter season.

In 2013, Room at the Inn bought a former pizza shop on Washington Street in Marquette. Last fall, they opened a new warming center there to help keep hundreds of people safe during the day. The Room at the Inn program only operates at night, and many residents need a place to go each morning.

“We’ve been able to help by serving more meals,” Room at the Inn executive director Doug Russell said. “More folks have come in to take advantage of our meals and our services here. We’ve also had a great many members of the community who’ve come in looking for ways to help, where they can volunteer their time, donate money, donate items.”

So many donations have come in that Room at the Inn has had to turn some of them away, but they still need to raise about $100,000 to pay off the warming center’s mortgage.

“We’ve been probably serving on (the) order of 30 to 50 breakfasts every day, which is a 100% increase over our average time in the Agape Cafe, (the center’s old location),” Russell said.

Besides serving more residents, the new home has allowed the warming center to remain open for more hours. It’s now open for 25 more hours each week than it used to be before it moved.