In spring 2012, a small group of concerned citizens came together with a desire to provide for the basic needs of God’s children, including a free meal and a safe place to sleep. In summer 2012, the First United Methodist Church joined with other area churches to provide a free weekly meal to those in need. The following winter, Our Brothers Keeper (OBK) opened to provide overnight shelter during the winter months. However, during the first week of operation, OBK became a 24-hour shelter due to the plummeting daytime temperatures and blizzards.
During the first year of operation, the shelter served 108 people and averaged 24 guests per night. The following year, shelter usage increased; serving 156 people and up to 34 guests per night.
The shelter is home to adults and families. OBK has served several families with young children, as well as guests that have mental and physical disabilities and illnesses.
During the second year of operation, volunteers were trained in shelter procedures, empathic listening, and crisis intervention. Part-time staff was hired to provide consistency in shelter operations. In order to improve access to services, Mid Michigan Community Action, Goodwill, District Health Department #10, and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) provided services on-site. Transportation to MichiganWorks, Department of Health and Human Services (DHS), Social Security, and 1016 Recovery Network was provided. In addition, OBK’s neighbors, Hope House and Community Mental Health (CMH), were easily accessible to guests in need. To provide spiritual support, OBK added daily devotions, Bible study, and transportation to area church services and activities.
Board of Directors