In the spring of 2012, a small group of concerned citizens came together with a desire to provide for the basic needs of God’s children. By January of 2013 the stage was set and Our Brothers Keeper (OBK) opened to provide overnight shelter during the coldest months of the year - November through April.
Our Brothers Keeper has progressed since its initial conception. Over the years policies have evolved and procedures have been honed. These changes have made the shelter better for everyone – guests, volunteers and staff – and have resulted in more consistency in the day to day operations. Over the years the on-going commitment to provide the best service possible to the downtrodden has given rise to volunteers and staff being trained in crisis intervention and empathetic listening.
Our Brothers Keeper has provided a temporary home to numerous homeless families and single adults, providing assistance to a diverse group of people. Some guests had just fallen on hard times while others suffered from chronic homelessness due to a variety of reasons including mental illness, a lack of education and a lack of life skills.
The board of directors decided that OBK should do more than just provide a meal and a place to stay and so was born the commitment to help the people being served to make lasting lifestyle changes. With the addition of a retired social worker OBK was able to aid the guests with obtaining the services they needed. To make this easier Mid Michigan Community Action agreed to meet with guests once a week at the shelter. While Hope House (Medical Clinic) and Community Mental Health (CMH) were readily accessible for those in need. Transportation to MichiganWorks, Department of Health and Human Services (DHS), Social Security, and 1016 Recovery Network was provided. To aid in the spiritual growth of the guests daily devotions, Bible studies and transportation to area church services and meals were provided.
During the first year of operation, the shelter served 108 people. The second year the number increased to 156 people. Year three saw another increase to 178 people while the fourth year saw a slight decrease, with 173 people being served.
We would like to thank these businesses, foundations, and organizations for the generosity they have shown.
Mid Michigan Community Action, Hope House Free Medical Clinic, Community Mental Health, Mecosta County Health Department, Project Starburst, Michigan Works, Department of Health and Human Services, and Ten16 Recovery Network. True North, Big Rapids Elks, Big Rapids Lions, Big Rapids Rotary Club, Big Rapids Eagles, Pioneer News Paper, Currie Towing & BP, Old Pioneer Store & Emporium, Star Shooters Bar & Restaurant, Lake and Lodge Realty, Mr. C's Party Store, Pizza in Paris, Blue Cow Cafe, Raven Brewing & BBQ, Preferred Office Machines, Elite Graphics, Topping Frozen Yogurt, J.D. Fitness, Three Girls Bakery, Big Rapids Nutrition, Lily's Nails & Spa, The Studio/Cardinal Spa, Mecosta County Convention Center, K&J Garage Doors, The Pie Hole, Remax Together, Sherman Williams, Bulldog Cinema, Big Rapids Department of Public Safety, Big Rapids parks and Recreation Department, Youth Opportunity, Youth Crossbow, Bernie's Donut Shop, Nanos, Ferris State University Students and staff, Jokers M/C Evart, Mayor Tom Hogenson, Big Rapids Biggby Coffee, Cranker's Brewery, Gypsy Nickel Lounge, Sunny 97.3 FM, Big Rapids City Hall employees, Babb Ford, 9&10 News, B103.9, Lerner, Csernai & Fath Financial Group, Brown's Barber Shop, Flow Tek Inc., Jordan Balkema Elder Law Center, Habitat for Humanity, Rodney United Methodist Church, Hersey United Methodist Church, United Church of Big Rapids, Laprino Foods, Canadian Lakes campground Bingo Players, St. Paul Women of ELCA, Third Ave Methodist Church, Familiar Dog Grooming Salon, Big Rapids High School Key Club, Mecosta County Visitors Bureau, St. Michael's Tuesday Morning Bible Study
Board of Directors
Dee Van Horn
Shelter Support Specialist