Love INC launches drive to fund Despelder St. homeless shelter

Love INC opened its capital campaign to the public Wednesday afternoon in an effort to open its ministry center doors to those in need. The Ministry Center, 1515 S. Despelder St., will house, educate and counsel homeless women in an atmosphere of respect and dignity, Love INC officials say. After many volunteer hands pitched in with labor and funds, Love INC's goal of $1.8 million for the purchase, renovation and operation of the former hospice house and adjacent North Ottawa Care Center is within reach, according to the organization's officials.
Marie Havenga
Apr 14, 2011


So far, Love INC has raised more than $1.1 million — and, just this week, it received an anonymous $20,000 matching grant that doubled the dollars donated.

“As of today, every dollar will be matched dollar for dollar,” Love INC Executive Director Eric Morgan said. “The Ministry Center is not just a shelter. Every woman there will have a curriculum every day. They’ll take classes on how to cook, how to parent — and they can get their GED if they want to. It’s not just a place to bunk. We’ll help teach them how to live.”

The 3,100-square-foot center is scheduled to open June 1. It features new carpet, paint, furniture, a community kitchen, gathering spaces, exercise and recreation facilities, and a children’s play area.

Six bedrooms will be set up to house singles and women with children. Single beds convert to bunk beds, depending on the need. Each resident will have storage space in the basement to call their own, and outdoor walking and prayer paths are planned in the adjacent woods.

Morgan, campaign chairman Jeff Beswick and Love INC Board of Directors President Kevin Velik unveiled “The Love INC Catalog for a Cause” on Wednesday to a crowd of about 30 outside of the Ministry Center. The 14-page booklet lists items of need — from cookware and bedding to yard tools and playground equipment — and the suggested donation to purchase them.

Community members and businesses can contribute $8 for towels, $3,870 for an entire room of furnishings, $20 for a life skill class or $250 for a lawnmower.

For a copy of the catalog, stop by the Love INC office, 1106 Fulton St., or call 846-2701. It may also be found online at

“This will be a place for people who don’t have a place,” said Morgan, who praised the many volunteers and businesses who donated time and materials to help make the center a home. “Everything is brand new. That’s what we want to give them — God’s best.”

Morgan said Love INC plans to open the former North Ottawa Care Center for male and family programs in about a year.

“It’s been kind of a missing piece in our community,” he said. “We’ve had to send people to Holland and Muskegon in the past. We’re filling a niche for a need that continues to exist. This will be a wonderful place where people will find hope, will find love and will find forgiveness.”

Love INC representatives said they have little doubt the generous Tri-Cities Community will come through with the necessary funding. Donations so far have come from corporations, private funds and foundations.

“I’m thrilled with the donations so far,” Beswick said. “To be opening the public phase of the campaign when we’re already one-third of the way there is really great.

I’m extremely confident we’ll reach $1.8 million in a very short time.”

The $1.8 million is expected to keep the facilities operating for up to three years after the purchase and renovations.

Love INC officials praised the North Ottawa Community Health System for selling the Despelder Street properties to them on a flexible land contract.

“NOCHS has been very helpful in making this happen,” Beswick said.


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