MUSKEGON, Mich. — As soon as the temperatures dropped below 40 degrees, the Muskegon Rescue Mission implemented their Cold Weather Policy, opening the doors to their shelters 24-7 and not just at certain times of the day.
They believe no one should be outside in the extreme cold.
“It literally can kill you in these kinds of weather if you are stuck outside all day or all night,” Dan Skoglund said during an interview with FOX 17 on Tuesday afternoon. “In our community there’s just no reason for anyone to need to do that. We are here. We’re open. Anyone is welcomed to come through our doors at anytime.”
Skoglund, who’s the executive director, said they have two shelters: the women and family’s shelter on Peck Street and the men’s shelter on Laketon Street. They’re both open all day, every day and anyone can stop by to get a hot meal and beverage.
“We have a lot of people who come in and eat in our shelters who are not staying in our shelters,” Skoglund said. “They’re the vulnerable population that are struggling to make ends meet [and] don’t have food. So, absolutely anyone is welcome to share a meal.”
However, those who eat or sleep in the shelter will be expected to abide by CDC guidelines like wearing masks and social distancing.
“We do do testing for our guests. If they come in and are symptomatic, we get a test,” Skoglund said. “If they are positive, we get them connected with the local healthcare.”
Skoglund said since their policy went into effect weeks ago, they’ve been seeing an increase in people staying at their shelters.
“Last night we had over 90 individuals in or shelters and the numbers are climbing every day, “ he said. “Before the winter is done we will be [sheltering] 130-150 people for a night.”
He said they haven’t hit max capacity. Each shelter has 70 beds. However they have a number of cots and mats, so everyone has a safe place to sleep.
“We are never full. We always have somewhere somebody can lay tonight,” Skoglund said. “It might be on a mat on the floor with blankets and pillows but we have somewhere for everybody.”
To volunteer with or donate to the Muskegon Rescue Mission, click here.