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Mel Trotter helping people experiencing homelessness stay cool during extreme heat

Posted at 5:24 PM, Aug 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 18:49:49-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — With temperatures in the 90s and possibly 100s over the weekend, Mel Trotter Ministries is in a Code Red. Senior VP Jeff Dashner said that means their doors are open longer for people experiencing homelessness.

“We’re doing extra rounds outside of our buildings or on the perimeter looking for people that need to get out of heat, looking for signs of heat exhaustion and really just being there to meet the needs where the guests happened to be,” Dashner said during an interview with FOX 17 on Friday. “Our curfew is also lifted at night. So, typically we have a 9 p.m. curfew. We lifted that so guests can come in whenever they need to get out of that heat.”

Dashner said they’ve been in a Code Red all week and will continue to be until Monday morning.

He added that when staff goes out on the streets, they make sure that people have "water, sunscreen, lotion, and cooling towels." If need be, then they’ll bring them inside their cooling center.

“We’ve got an air-conditioned building. Then we’ve got a day center with chairs set up, some television, and interaction with our staff,” Dashner said. “So, when you walk into the day center, you get that burst of cool fresh air. We’re in COVID, so everybody's spaced out properly in face masks come into the mission.”

Dashner said they’re also working with nearby Dégagé Ministries and Heartside in order to reach as many people as possible. Nevertheless, everyone is welcome.

“We absolutely will meet anybody that’s just, 'Yeah, the AC isn’t working’ or ‘We don’t have it,’” said Dashner. “We can provide that relief here and make it an enjoyable experience for all ages.”

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