Letters and Stories from Guests and Volunteers



​The Ray of Hope has been very helpful and has provided me with referrals and job leads. They have been extremely cooperative with understanding my transition from incarceration to re-adjusting back into the community. I commend them for their assistance. Best of all Mark’s latest job lead resulted in a job that I will start next week.

Gratefully, Tim Q.

​[From December 2013 newsletter]

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The Ray of Hope Center was of enormous help to me in my job search and transition back into the community. God bless all workers at the Ray of Hope!

— recently released long-term prisoner from a state prison

[From December 2013 newsletter]


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​I am so grateful for what this facility has done for my life. I have been on ground zero and Ray of Hope helped me pull a 360 in my life. They provided me with any extra clothes I needed, hygiene kits, food in my stomach, bus tickets and an emergency blanket so I could sleep well in the cold nights. Then I got into the MCCREST homeless shelter for their 90-day program. It’s been a blessing to have a roof over my head and being taken care of by these two facilities while I have been waiting for my ID to come in the mail so I can begin work that Ray of Hope helped me find. Now they are helping me get my government issued phone now that I got my bridge card. Even better, with this job they helped me find I will be independent at 21 yrs old with my own apartment they shall help me find. This will not be no 1 yr project. After my job training I will be earning a decent salary with lots of opportunities for the future! We say the small things in life are a blessing most hold for granted. I am grateful for all these small things as I have been living for the Lord this past year. Ray of Hope and God have not only provided me with blessings, they turned up a miracle in the making for years to come. Amen.
— Frank M.

​[From December 2013 newsletter]


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  My name is Joseph McCarroll and I came to the Ray of Hope center looking for a home and was gave a listing and found me a home from the listing.  Thank you very much and God bless you.

  P.S.  This is a very good place to find help.

​[From August 2013 newsletter]


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  I feel that you [Ray of Hope] will help me with my situation and was really courteous.  I feel hopeful for the first time; this is a real ray of hope.

James

[From August 2013 newsletter]


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  ​I have to say Ray of Hope has been very helpful with everything.  I have to say if you are honest with yourself and love yourself, there are people that care and love you, and it's a great thing to love them back.  If you need help and want to prosper, Ray of Hope is the choice.

  ​Thanks,

Damond Lewis

[From June 2013 newsletter]


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Pastor Donna:

  Thank you for these wonderfully inspiring words. I have found my experiences to be the same as yours over the last several years that I have been blessed to be a part of the Warming Center organization.

  My self-appointed role on the Warming Center’s board is visiting as many churches as possible during their shelter week and to thank the volunteers on behalf of the board and myself. In every single case in the two years I have been doing this, the response of the people is similar to what you report. This has certainly been the case in my visits to First UMC the last several years.

  I am going to share this letter with my volunteers during our training meeting next week, as First Presbyterian prepares for our week with the shelter.

  FPC is further blessed by having such a good neighbor in First UMC.

  Blessings,

  Dan Heaton

This letter was written in response to an previously published letter by Pastor Donna Minarik of First United Methodist Church in Mt. Clemens.  It appeared in the February 2013 newsletter.


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I would like to share this experience that took place during our shelter week.

My wife and I are the coordinators at our church.  Thank God for her, I don't know how one person could do it.  On Thursday I was not feeling well at all.  I had the same sickness as some of our guests. I asked my wife if she could cover me if I stayed home and rested, and she did.

As I stayed home with a fever and all the other things that go with the flu, I realized how challenging it would be if I were sick, as I was, but in the position of one of our guests. With the body aches I had I couldn’t imagine not being able to have slept in a comfortable bed all day. I couldn’t have just gone to the medicine chest and taken something to relieve my symptoms. I wouldn’t have been able to eat the chicken noodle soup that my wife made me, either.

  I felt VERY blessed to enjoy the simple comforts of our home and to have the support of a loving wife.

  When I returned the next night to work at our church, I received the best present of the season that truly amazed me. Our guests had gotten together and bought me a get well card that a number of them, including the ones who were ill, had signed and written encouraging statements to me.

Steve Morisette

[From February 2013 newsletter]

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Hello, my name is Pat.  For the past several years I have been a night monitor for the shelters.  The one common denominator I notice from our guests is gratitude.

I've been around them for awhile and they always show their appreciation, although they show it in different ways.  Thank you all for your support and "warmth."

[From February 2013 newsletter]

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To Ray of Hope:

You all at Ray of Hope gave me a place to come when I needed help.  When I had no address, I had the opportunity to receive my mail.  Gave me food and beverages to keep me strong and healthy.  A warm dry place to come to and feel comfortable and at home, even opportunities to get to work a few times and another voice to hear when I got discouraged.  Perfect time to say what is really needed to say.  Thank you for all your help. 

Keis

[From December 2012 newsletter]

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Ray of Hope,

I will honestly say you did and are helping me and my family.  I am scared and unsure of myself as a mom and soon to be wife, like I am failing my family.  But from the moment I walked in you treated me as a human being, an equal, not something worthless or to be pitied.  As I spent the few hours here and others came and gone, you did the same for them.

Thank you.

Bobbie

[From December 2012 newsletter]


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I would like to thank The Ray of Hope for the assistance received in the last year.  Although I have not had to use all available to me, it is good to know they are there and will help anyone with an emergency.

Thank you.

Dave Matthews
August 30, 2012


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Ray of Hope has helped me tremendously with employment assistance & food pantry info.  Thank you Ray of Hope.

Shaheda Jenkins
August 30, 2012

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Being Homelessless

Being homeless means you have some kind of shelter covering you whether it's a car, a tent, or cardboard box, or maybe an abandoned house (that's not yours) where you sleep for the night with no name or address on it.

​Me, myself I sleep in a van on a lot where they work on cars.  I check in about 8-8:30 for the night and I'm up and gone by 6-6:30 a.m.  Sometimes it gets kind of lonely and sometimes it doesn't.  It depends on who I run into out there.  I have quite a few friends that are in the same situation as me.  For the most part we treat each other like family -- kind of like we all grew up together.  But sometimes we run into someone new that likes to go around stealing other people's blankets and personal things.  And that's not a good idea if you're not sure how long you have to be on the streets.  But when I run into someone I know, we usually end up sitting back for a while drinking a couple of 40s until it gets dark enough to turn in for the night.  I usually like to start my day by going to McDonald's for coffee, then taking off to Salvation Army or MCREST for a shower.  And if it's a Monday or a Thursday, I go to a church just past Mt. Clemens called "the Well" where I get a dinner and good company.  Most people in jail look forward to the day they get out.  It's basically the same on the streets.  A lot of people look forward to the day when they can go in the local shelters.   Now there's a few people that really want to get off the streets and get it together.  But most of the homeless are just interested in how good they get treated and what they can get for free.  Me, I'm looking to get on section 8 and eventually get in my own apartment.  Don't get me wrong -- it's nice to be treated good and get new stuff for free, but people shouldn't run around trying to work the churches and shelters for whatever they can get.  That's not right.  Well, that's my version of "Being homeless."

Left unsigned at one of our shelter churches, this letter appeared in the August 2012 newsletter. 

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​To whom it may concern, my name is Cedric Vance, and I would just like to Thank “You All” very much in my struggle for independent living. You have been very helpful and patient with me. It makes me feel somebody really does care.

So thank you and may God Bless you all.

Cedric S. Vance, Army, E-5 Sergeant, Infantry Combat Instructor  [Ed. note: Although Cedric did not include this in his letter, he is a veteran, disabled during his service in Desert Storm. His letter appeared in the August 2012 newsletter.]


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Dear sir/ma'am:

I have been privileged to be a part of the Macomb County Warming Center program for almost 10 years.  In that time, I have seen lives saved, second chances provided and people make positive changes in their lives.

​As you may know, the Warming Center provides an emergency homeless shelter program in the cold weather months and also provides a year-round day center where a variety of services and referrals are offered.  The shelter program admits all adults, without judgment, who are able to follow the program's few simple rules, basically if you do not present a health or safety concern for yourself or another person, you can stay.

I particularly applaud the Warming Center's shelter program for not turning away people who are abusing substances and sometimes arrive drunk or high.  Though these individuals may have made some poor choices during the day, they still deserve a warm, dry, safe place to sleep and a hot meal.  All the guests of the shelter receive that -- and a chance to face a new day and the opportunities that it may bring.

At the Warming Center's Ray of Hope Day Center, those who want to take the next step, to get out of homelessness -- or are desperately seeking a way to prevent becoming homeless -- are able to access a variety of services.  At the day center, clients can receive their mail; get help getting a new ID card or a phone.  Assistance is provided with various housing and health care programs -- all designed to give people a fresh start.

About five years ago, I became a member of the board of directors of the Warming Center.  Giving up additional hours to sit on a board is a challenge.  I feel, however, that the Warming Center program is well worth an investment of both time and money.

There is a final benefit to the Warming Center's operation that is often overlooked.  It builds strong churches.  Through work as Warming Center partners and host sites, churches across Macomb County are strengthened as their parishioners come together to work on this labor-intensive program.  Strong churches help build strong individuals who then build strong families and strong communities.  By building strong families and strong communities, we continue to take strides to eliminate homelessness in our communities.

Sincerely,

Dan Heaton

July 19, 2012


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At the Ray of Hope Organization 1st and foremost I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for being there for me and providing me with shelter, a temporary place that I was calling my home to go to…. I will say it to the Ray of Hope Organization and all of the wonderful people there thank you all 100x100 times thank you. I was just approved for housing with Community Housing Network, they will now provide me with a permanent place I can now call my new home. Wow what a wonderful feeling and a wonderful thing to happen with some wonderful people and a wonderful person like myself. 

Thank you all sincerely, James G.
You are all just simply the best.

[From June 2012 newsletter]

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​I am so grateful for the warming center!  I was warm and had good meals.  It was a wonderful thing that I learned about the warming center shelter.  One of the best things was that I realized that people are not all "cold" as I had always believed, but that you really cared about me!  I am in the process of getting help in finding housing and now looking forward to life.  Thank you all so much!

James G.
March 2012

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​I will be discharged soon and will be back in the shelter.  May I come back?  I am feeling much better; I was diagnosed with "Bi-Polar and Manic Depressive"; I did not want to go to the hospital but glad you took me to the clinic and they helped me so much.

S.B.
March 2012

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​Dear Kathy [Goodrich],

While driving in the wet and cold today, I drove past a man standing at an intersection with a sign that simply said "homeless."  My heart went out to him, because no one should have to stand out in the cold, but since my church and I have become involved with the Warming Center, I don't feel so helpless in the face of such need because I know that there are options besides standing out in the cold.  The churches that host the Warming Center insure that there is always a way to stay warm and be safe in the cold months.  Just a couple of weeks ago, 90 men and women had a safe and warm place to sleep as well as a hot meal during the week that our church, First United Methodist of Mount Clemens, served as host to this ministry.  This week, there is another church offering hope for a new day by opening their doors to our homeless neighbors.  It is an amazing ministry in which I am both humbled and proud to participate.

​I want to share the reasons why I am so personally motivated to participate.  First, this ministry provides a hands-on way to live according to Jesus' commands to reach out to the least, the last, and the lost.  Meeting and ministering to our Warming Center guests leaves no room to hide from the reality and depth of need in our community.  It gives a chance to understand the dimensions of homelessness, since the stories of the guests and the reasons they are currently homeless are as varied as can be imagined.  Each of them finds their way to us by a different route, and together we hope and pray that, with the temporary help of Warming Center and Ray of Hope, they will also make their way out.

​Another reason I am motivated to participate in Warming Center is the tremendous blessing it brings to our congregation.  Each person comes for their own reasons, but for the most part our first time volunteers come to "help others."  Each night we work together to welcome and feed and settle our guests into their temporary home, and without fail we all find that the greater help and blessing was the one we each receive.  Our congregation has grown closer to our homeless friends, closer to each other, and closer to God because we host Warming Center.  

One more reason I find this ministry to be a blessing is this . . . there are always miracles!!!  In our four years hosting, not a year has gone by that God has not provided for us and for our guests in miraculous ways.  I remember the time one guest had recently been released from prison with only a pair of men's long johns to wear.  She asked if we had some pants, and I searched desperately around in a storage room that held some leftover items from a rummage sale hoping for something that might work.  Just as I was about to give up, I came across a pair of size 16 tall pants with the tags from the store still attached. They were the only pants in the box, but fit our guest like they were made for her.  This year, an employee of a company near our church had seen our Warming Center sign and watched the guests assemble in the evening from his office window.  He was inspired to call to see if he could help.  I described the ministry and suggested some needed items like milk, eggs and fruit that he might donate.  He was so moved that he brought much more than we asked for, which really helped.  He said that this opportunity was just what he needed.  God had brought yet another miracle.

One final reason that I am blessed by participating in the Warming Center is very personal.  I help to honor the memory of my big brother Jack.  Despite a loving and caring family, Jack was an independent and adventurous soul, and struck out on his own after high school.  He traveled the country, often hitchhiking, and worked odd jobs when he could find them.  While I do not know everything that happened during his travels and his adult life, I do know that there were times when he depended on the kindness of organizations like the Warming Center to survive.  He was homeless by choice, since our parents would have gladly welcomed him home, but that is also true of some of our guests.  Some of our guests also struggle from mental illness, and that was the case with Jack.  His adventure ended when he took his own life, which is the purest form of homelessness.  And so, I gladly offer my time so that each of our guests can have hope for a new day . . . in memory of Jack.

​I would be happy to share any of this with any church considering hosting Warming Center, with any press or organization that might help garner financial support, or as goodwill promotion via the press.  It is my privilege to speak on behalf of such an amazing ministry of hope.

In Christ,

Rev. Donna Minarik

[From April 2012 newsletter]

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I was an individual on the street and without proof of ID.  This place took me in and helped me see that you only get what you put into life and now I got a job and ID.  Plus I am working on housing.  

George

[From February 2012 newsletter]

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Thanks.  This and all these churches have saved me from sleeping in the cold, and from going hungry.

Anonymous

[From February 2012 newsletter]

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​This guy [Mark Henderson] has done more for us in an hour [at the Ray of Hope] than the other place [mental health inpatient home] did for us [my hospital roommate and I] in a month.

Anthony

[From February 2012 newsletter]

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​I feel that the Ray of Hope has helped me in so many ways since I've come here.  The assistance I['ve] gotten on all levels has helped me to achieve even harder, and bring my aggressive conversation down 8 or 9 notches.  I thank the Ray of Hope for all they've done for me.  It shows by my new job [that I worked my first shift at] last night.  The Lord is ever so good.

Truly,

D.M.

[From December 2011 newsletter]

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Ray of Hope has been a big help and hope for me in many things.  They have assistance for getting a job, home and many other [things].  And to all who work at Ray of Hope, I just like to ask God to bless each and every last one for the Godly work of hope and help they have been doing.

Thank you!

J.E.

[From December 2011 newsletter]

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​Ray of Hope was extremely helpful in aiding with an ID/Soc. Security/Job info.  I came in completely stripped and left with some Hope!!

Thank you.

L.F.

[From December 2011 newsletter]

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​On the first night of hosting the shelter, we had a heavy snowstorm and I had to send out the guests at 7 a.m. into at least 10 inches of snow.  When I went to my car after closing, I discovered it was covered on three sides with snow drifts in addition to the 10 inches on top and in front.

It took me an hour to shovel out my car and I was exhausted.  However, as I was pulling out of the driveway to Mound Road, it suddenly hit me that our guests were trudging through all that snow for miles and hours and it put my experience into perspective.

​I also remember two of the guests in particular.  One was K. who was always first in line.  He always checked in his new bottle of Pepsi to be kept overnight, and he always thanked me for the food and fellowship he got at St. Paul [United Church of Christ].

The other guest I especially remember was D. who was deaf but could communicate with his hands and his smile better than some of our guests with no handicap.

We also had three of our guests who spent part of that week in the hospital due to respiratory problems or other conditions.  Living on the street is not for the faint of heart.

​Marge Murrell

[From October 2011 newsletter]

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​My reflection of the Warming Center:  J. came in late each night to the Warming Center this week as he had just started a new job that required a split shift.  This was the second week for his job.

J. grew up in my community at the same time as my children, went to the same schools, studied at the same city library and lived in a subdivision just a short distance from ours.  He spent four years in the Navy right out of high school and then worked as a welder.  He became homeless after a divorce and settlement of debts.

The highlight of our week came late the last evening when he told me this would be his last night with us as he was able to now afford a shared-rent apartment.  J. is one of the success stories from the Warming Center Program.

Dick Schuster

[From October 2011 newsletter]

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It was an honor to serve those in need by preparing warm and nutritious meals.  One evening as I was limping around, I had one of our guests come up to me very concerned, wondering if I was alright.  How touched I was to have someone so concerned and caring how I was.

​I found most of our guests so appreciative and thanking us over and over.  Trying to think up some special treat for them, I came up with ice cream cups, something we take for granted.  Oh my, what a treat it was to them, they almost mobbed me to get one.  Truly a blessing to be able to help serve and give to those in need.

Barbara Stephens

[From October 2011 newsletter]

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​My week volunteering at the warming center is always a great experience that cannot be put into words.  It is a lot of work, but the fulfillment I receive from doing it definitely outweighs the work portion.  On the last night one of the guests told us workers in the kitchen that they had all voted and that we were going to be going on with them to the next church to cook for them.

​Throughout the week, we were told how much they enjoyed the food, but hearing them wanting to have us go with them on to the next church was great!  Knowing that we were able to give them warm full stomachs for a week was very fulfilling for me, and I can't wait to do it again next year!

Beth DeVlaminck

[From June 2011 newsletter]

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​I experienced a new job this year but I volunteered to help with the laundry on Sunday morning.  After some minor confusion, I finally met up with them at the Tiny Bubbles laundromat.

They sure have a system and they have it down pat.

First all blankets must be unfolded and shaken - then into the double load washers - three or five to a washer depending on the size and thickness - shut the door and here comes someone with soap then someone with quarters.

Now we have a little break.  Then, when that load is done, here we go again with the same routine.  Now we take the clean blankets and put them into a dryer this time only three to a dryer.  It only takes 10 minutes and they are dry.  Fold and put into large bags ready to go to the next church.

​All this was done by one woman and her daughter and she had three or four young boys helping and, believe it or not, we were all done by 10:15.  This works like clockwork and yet they have time to laugh and joke.

I will gladly do it again and, if someone would like to donate something other than their time, I know it would be greatly appreciated.  They used liquid All with no scent, Bounce dryer sheets and, of course, QUARTERS.

Sue Regier

[From June 2011 newsletter]

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​Ray of Hope is caring, loving and I, for one, appreciate the things they have done for me.

C. Steadman

[From January 2009 newsletter]

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​I have been homeless since Oct. 18.  I have worked since I was 16 years old and I am now in my 40s and this is the first time I have been homeless.

I worked for a small factory for seven years and was laid off in October.

I was one of those people who would see homeless people and think to myself "you need to get a job".  They would ask for 25 cents and I would tell them I don't have it and keep going.  Since I have been in their shoes, believe me it is not fun!

These poor people are not there because they want to be - they have no place to go due to hard times.  I don't wish being homeless on anyone so for all who think "it can't happen to me," think again.  It can.  These people have no family or have little ones.

I only made $14,000 a year and $10,000 went for rent if you are lucky enough to find a place to live.  Some people live in a motel for $250 a week.

So if you can help, please in this day and age, all we need is help.  And to those who helped so that the day center could help me, thank you so much.

Kathy asked me to join the Peer Group which I am hoping will help me find a new job.  I want to study to be a physical therapist because that kind of job I would be good at and it will not have lay offs like the factory.

Cheryl

[From January 2009 newsletter]

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