TAYLOR — Jeremy prefers to stay to himself. He lives in a tent in the woods and collects bottles and cans to get the spending money he needs each day. Sometimes, though, he needs a little extra help to get by.
That’s when he drops in at the ChristNet daytime program. He knows he can warm up, get a good meal and be in a place where there is no judgement.
Alissa found herself without a place to stay after she and her boyfriend broke up. Her family wasn’t around, and friends weren’t able to take her in. She went to ChristNet for shelter until she could find a way to make it on her own.
Anthony was recently released from a rehabilitation program. He didn’t have a place to live and knew if he hooked up with his old friends, he’d never be able to stay clean. He found ChristNet, a safe place to stay where he could get the assistance he needed to look for housing and a job.
While the names in these stories are fictional, the situations are real. In the Downriver area there are many people needing food and shelter, with no place to go. It is estimated that there are about 20,000 homeless people in metropolitan Detroit, with fewer than 10 percent receiving shelter and help each night around the county.
That’s where ChristNet comes in.
The mission of ChristNet is to provide temporary overnight emergency housing assistance and other services to homeless men, women, and children. They do this by providing a safe, secure sleeping space; offering three meals per day; and providing day time resources such as a case manager who coordinates resources to help those in need restabilize their lives.
ChristNet began with a series of community forums on emergency food and housing needs convened in Taylor in June and September 1992. The driving force behind these forums came from workers at St. Paul United Church of Christ, St. Cyril of Jerusalem Catholic Church and West Mound United Methodist Church, all in Taylor.
With the support of a handful of other Taylor churches an eight-week pilot project was organized for January and February 1993. Each participating church agreed to host the new “warming center” for one week.
In the years since, more and more churches have partnered with ChristNet, increasing the length of the season. ChristNet is now able to provide overnight shelter to those in need from mid-October into May with the goal of becoming a year-round program.
Beginning in December 2008, ChristNet added a daytime program. The mission of the program is to link ChristNet guests with available services and resources that can help them secure appropriate health services, more stable housing, and job skill development that will facilitate employment.
ChristNet Center is located in the lower level of Taylor Church of the Nazarene, 24356 Eureka Road. For guests enrolled in the night time shelter program, transportation is provided from the center to the host church on a nightly basis, returning them back to the center the next morning.
To better service ChristNet guests, a new building was purchased in November 2013. The building will provide a permanent place for the guests to go during the day — a place where they can shower, do laundry, eat and meet with counselors for help getting back on their feet.
Before the building can be occupied, however, major renovations need to be completed, including bringing the building up to code, adding offices and bathrooms, computer stations and installing a commercial kitchen, laundry facilities and showers.
Plans are in place, construction is under way, and fundraising continues while ChristNet presses on to meet its goal to better serve the homeless in the Downriver communities.
ChristNet relies on volunteers and donations to keep the program going. For more information on how to help, call 734-287-8890, email [email protected], or make a donation online at https://christnetservices.org/donate.