There is a word that frequently occupies our minds at Northlands Rescue Mission: change. We think about how we can help our clients change their futures for the better. We think about what we can change at the Mission to more effectively serve our clients, our community, and God. As the daily work goes on, we look ahead to see how we can grow and increase the impact of your donations. That’s why in October of 2017 we revamped our client housing program. It’s why we brought in a social worker last year to work with families close to homelessness. And it’s why we started a Mobile Food Pantry to reach low-income families in Grand Forks and the surrounding counties. Michael has seen a lot of change, both at the Mission and in his own life. He first came to Grand Forks from Silver Spring, Maryland in 2011. Mike wanted to make a new start in life, but he had no family in the area. He came to the Mission not knowing what to expect. “I thought [the Mission] was going to be like a…homeless shelter," Mike says. "I’ve seen some rough homeless shelters. I’ve never been in one until I came here, but I don’t even call it a homeless shelter. It’s a Rescue Mission. They are there for you when you’re down." Mike found a job with the help of the Mission, and he stayed in Grand Forks for a while. He was a hard, practical worker, and he found employment at LM Wind Power and HB Light & Sound. Eventually, Mike decided to move back to the east coast to be near family.
Life could be difficult back home, though. The crime rate was high in some areas, and there were less resources for people in need. “Where I’m from, I heard sirens all the time,” says Mike. “If I didn’t hear sirens, I heard helicopters.” Mike needed somewhere safe.He thought of his time in North Dakota, and this past April he returned to Northlands Rescue Mission.
When Mike arrived, he was surprised to see a different Mission than the one he left in 2011. “The Mission had really changed,” says Mike. “Now they have social workers…counselors. They helped me get a place to live.” Mike has his own apartment today. He's not sure what he would have done if the Mission wasn’t there to help. “It was a good jump start for me,” says Mike. “Everything at the Mission is what you need. You don’t get a half meal; you get a full meal. If you need clothes, you can go downstairs and get clothes. They’ll give you a big box of food…vegetables, meats. They even have furniture for you when you move out. The only thing you have to do is keep progressing.” Mike tells us that the Mission kept him motivated to move forward. He didn’t have to worry about food or shelter, and the social workers showed him exactly what he needed to do to find housing. The most impactful thing for Mike, though, was seeing others around him move out.
“I’ve seen people come here and stay for two weeks,” Mike says. “The next thing you know, they tell me, ‘Hey Mike, I’m leaving. I got a place!’”
“I got to the Mission around April, and I left on the last day of May,” says Mike. “During that time, I saw a good twelve people come in and leave with their own apartment. They got their own jobs. They’re really doing nice.”
Mike is happy in his new apartment today. “It’s nice and quiet. It’s a clean building,” says Mike. “It feels good, you know? To have my own place here.”
Grand Forks is starting to feel like a real home for Mike. He sees it as a place where people care about each other, where people are quick to step in and help strangers. “A lot of the people around here are really friendly,” says Mike. “I haven’t met a bad person yet.”
Mike is still connected with his family on the coast, and they talk every day. His grandkids are his greatest joy. “That’s what [life] is really about,” says Mike. “Being able to be around for my grandkids…watching them get old as I get old. I have some nice kids.” He talks about how his granddaughter loves to dance. They video chat regularly, and seeing her full of energy and life always makes him smile. "One thing I can say...each day gets better and better for me," says Mike.
Thank you for giving our clients the opportunity to change their lives. Thank you for helping the Mission grow in its role for the community. Despite uncertain times, we know that positive things are happening every day for people. Just ask Mike!
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. - 1 John 4:11
Your donation creates a safe, supportive environment for our clients. Thank you for making real change possible.