Mel Trotter Loosens Restrictions To Provide Shelter From Dangerous Cold

Posted at 9:41 PM, Jan 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-06 22:59:15-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A man was taken to the hospital Monday morning after suffering from hypothermia.

He was located on the 900 block of Franklin Street and had injuries due to exposure.

One witness described the man as “bad off” and said he may have been severely injured.

To avoid tragedy for those who are homeless or less fortunate in these dangerous temperatures, Mel Trotter Ministries says it has loosened its restrictions on those that can stay at the facility.

“Without Mel Trotter, people would die in the streets out there in the cold. It’s real bad out there,” said Steven Brewer, a Mel Trotter Client.

On a brutal day like Monday, Steven Brewer felt blessed to have a roof over his head.

After he suffered a stroke, he was forced to hit the streets.

“When I had  a stroke and a house and I just couldn’t keep up with the bills by myself,” said Brewer. “It was just too hectic to maintain everything by myself so I lost everything.”

Without Mel Trotter Ministries and other shelters, he says many of those who are homeless in Grand Rapids would likely take shelter under bridges or in other places where they would likely die in the cold.

“They save lives,” said Brewer.

Another resident at Mel Trotter named Ron told us that it is especially dangerous in the cold if someone has other illnesses.  He said that he has a weakened heart and the cold affects his condition.  He said it’s also tough to get around in a wheel chair in the snow, which is what he uses.

Resident and volunteer Vern Vanthof said a friend of his also suffered injury from being outside.

“One guy had to go to the hospital yesterday, had a seizure from cold,” said Vanthof.

Mel Trotter Ministries says, because it is so dangerous outside, they are letting everyone in.

“We’re not turning people away,” said Reverend Leonard McElveen , Assistant Vice President of Programs at Mel Trotter Ministries.

Even those previously banned from the shelter for various reasons, including life-threatening behavior or substance abuse will be allowed to stay.

The shelter is so full at this point, workers began putting mattresses in a room typically used for worship to create temporary quarters.

“As people come to us, we’ll simply throw more mattresses on the floor and we’ll house as many people as there’s a need for,” said McEleveen. “There’s no reason for a person to die in the cold here in the city of Grand Rapids, you know, our ministry’s purpose is to make sure that that doesn’t happen.”

Brewer hopes those left on the streets accept the offer so they don’t suffer like those who he says died because they didn’t want to ask for help.

“They had too much pride to come in here and died out there in the streets,” said Brewer. “Please come in and get warm, this is a safe place.”

Mel Trotter ministries had a limited administration staff on hand Monday because of the weather.

However, the shelter had plenty of other staff on hand to welcome those to the shelter needing to get out of the cold.