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City of Battle Creek turns popular recreational center into homeless shelter

Share Center ‘grateful’ City allowed them to move to Full Blast, giving them space to practice social-distancing
Posted at 7:36 PM, Apr 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-23 19:36:18-04

As soon as the governor’s executive stay-at-home order went into effect on March 24, Full Blast — a popular recreational and fitness center with a water park — shut its doors.

However, immediately afterwards, the Share Center moved in.

“We moved our day shelter operations over to Full Blast and we’re so very grateful to the city of Battle Creek for allowing us to do that,” said Robert Elchert, executive director of the center. “It’s a much bigger facility than the Share Center that allows for us to accommodate our consumers with appropriate social distancing.”

Elchert said since they’ve moved in they’ve been serving around 30 homeless men and women a day. The staff can’t do any face-to-face peer services like they used to. However they try to keep people busy with books, games and movies.

“The facility is pretty well suited to not only house individuals during the day and overnight, but it has restroom facilities and showers and those other amenities you would need,” said Assistant City Manager Ted Dearing during a Zoom interview with FOX 17. “So it really was a good fit.”

Elchert said men can also stay overnight at Full Blast while women can sleep at the Haven of Rest on Green Street.

During the day the Share Center’s cooks and volunteers prepare meals that they drive to Full Blast.

“We just eclipsed 4,000 meals in our first month of carryout,” Elchert said. “So, it’s starting to uptick because we know that the economic effects of this are going to last way longer than any quarantines or executive orders.”

Elchert said that the Share Center also prepares meals for people living in hotel rooms. Currently they drop off food at 67 hotel rooms throughout the city, some of the people in them are quarantining.

Dearing said City Hall was grateful to accommodate the city’s 'most vulnerable population.' They expect the governor’s stay-at-home order to be extended. They're ready to house them there for as long as needed.

“At some point we know we’ll need to transition probably as weather gets a little bit better,” Dearing said. “But right now we plan on continuing to offer the service at Full Blast.”