I have no need to tell you we are living in unprecedented times. We see that word over and over again as our country works to tame COVID-19 and care for those who are ill.
Guiding Light is taking an unprecedented step of our own in response to the coronavirus: We are temporarily turning over the keys to our home at 255 S. Division in Grand Rapids to the Kent County Health Department. As we have watched the spread of COVID-19 through our community, we have been increasingly alarmed to realize there was no announced coordinated plan to care for the men and women struggling with addiction, mental health issues and homelessness in the Heartside community.
So Guiding Light stepped up, much as we have done every day for the past 90 years of caring for the most vulnerable in our society. We felt it was our God-given responsibility to step forward to make available a safe, clean and secure isolation space in the event of an outbreak of COVID-19 in our Heartside community. Without access to proper sanitation or the ability to physically distance, an outbreak in Heartside would ravage this group of souls.
After weeks of phone calls and outreach from me and my Board of Directors to Kent County, our prayers were answered. We have been blessed with a location, courage, faith and resources to help during this tumultuous time. From today until whenever this outbreak is declared over, our facility will serve as an isolation center for those experiencing homelessness in the Heartside neighborhood who may contract COVID-19 and otherwise would have no other safe place to go.
The County has assured us that these men and women will be taken care of with proper medical equipment and personnel, which means we can all sleep better tonight. I am humbled to share that several Guiding Light men have offered to stay and help Kent County staff the isolation center. This is an example of true selflessness on the part of those we serve, of Heartside serving Heartside.
Rest assured, the men we serve on a daily basis still have a home. Men in our Recovery program have been moved to Iron House, where they can continue their work on addiction recovery and re-engagement with society. We have also offered other housing accommodations to all the men in the Back to Work program, so they will be healthy and ready to return to their jobs or be reassigned roles when our economy restarts.
These unprecedented steps will meet the changing needs of our community through this unsteady time. While bold, they are the right steps to take. We still have immense need for your support. We have offered the County our building rent-free, so we will continue to cover utilities and other regular expenses at Guiding Light while also paying for safe housing for our men elsewhere, along with a continuation of our programs at a distance.
While we have been hoping for the best, we have been preparing for the worst. To ensure the safety of our community, we have stocked up on emergency supplies of over-the-counter medication, food and other household necessities so we can continue to serve the men teetering on society’s edge.
Guiding Light will continue to pay staff wages and benefits so they can continue to offer programming under these extreme circumstances. In fact, we’ve had to invest in technology and tools so our entire staff can work remotely now. This has meant buying printers for some, increasing WiFi speed for others, and increasing our ability to securely access remote files. We’ve also adapted to offer virtual programming services so our men can continue their journeys of recovery and re-engagement.
With your help, our stamina will allow us to restart our regular programming when COVID-19 passes. I ask you to consider an extra gift now to allow us to continue supporting the men we serve and our broader community of souls. We are even short of envelopes at this time, so if you are able to donate on our website, www.guidinglightworks.com, that would be appreciated. If you prefer to write a check, you can send it to P.O. Box 1703, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 49501-1703.
THIS MEANS THAT ANYONE WHO BELONGS TO CHRIST HAS BECOME A NEW PERSON. THE OLD LIFE IS GONE; A NEW LIFE HAS BEGUN!
2 CORINTHIANS 5:17