Janesville homeless shelter offers sense of purpose to homeless men
A new homeless shelter in Janesville hopes to provide a sense of purpose and pride by giving them work, even if it's unpaid. The Abundant Grace Drop-in Center is open at 407 W. Van Buren Street. Kyle Geissler reports. You can read more in Monday's Janesville Gazette.
Abundant Grace Drop-in Center is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week at 407 W. Van Buren St., Janesville. For more information, call (608) 931-9285.
JANESVILLE Two years ago, GIFTS Men’s Shelter gave homeless men a warm place to stay overnight.
But come morning, many of them didn’t have anywhere to go. They’d drift to the library or a Laundromat, but some didn’t feel comfortable in those places.
“It’s nice to go to the library, but it just didn’t suit me,” Brad Neitzel said.
For the past two weeks, Neitzel has been coming to the new Abundant Grace Drop-in Center during the day and staying at GIFTS at night.
He’s not just sitting around at the center. He’s helping to create it.
“I like coming here and helping out,” he said. “If you have something for me to do, I’ll do it.”
The shelter at 407 W. Van Buren St. in Janesville welcomes homeless people and gives them a place to call their own, said the Rev. Mike Tearman, a minister of Abundant Grace Church at the same site. It also aims to give them a sense of purpose and pride by giving them work, even if it’s unpaid.
“A lot of times, it’s not money they need,” Tearman said. “It’s a sense of value in themselves.”
Tearman has wanted to start a daytime ministry since GIFTS opened in December 2007, and the pieces recently started falling into place.
Abundant Grace, based in Milton, started a Janesville branch in August. Tearman took his idea for the shelter to the GIFTS boards and other organizations, and donors gave $750 to get the project started.
So far, that’s been enough for the center. It runs on donated items and volunteer work. Even the onsite coordinator is a volunteer.
The shelter will serve men and women, but its main focus is the GIFTS men, Tearman said.
Over the last two weeks, homeless men have helped ready the shelter for guests. It now has a sick room for men who need to sleep and a day room with couches and a television.
Saturday, men worked to prepare a nursery that the church wants to offer to neighborhood parents who need short-term child care, such as when they go to doctor appointments or job interviews. A couple of men watched a movie in the day room, and one man slept on a cot in the sick room.
Tearman and other organizers hope to create a list of projects the men can work on in the community, such as shoveling snow or cleaning homes for elderly or disabled people.
“We’re trying to keep them busy,” Tearman said.
Men at the center Saturday said they enjoyed having something to do.
“It’s nice to get out of the cold,” said Matt, who preferred not to give his last name. “They give people a purpose.”
Tearman and other organizers said they are just showing God’s love to people in need.
“We love these guys,” he said. “We’re compelled by the love of Christ, and we can’t turn (them) away.”