Newton, executive director of the Muskegon Rescue Mission, said the organization has recently noticed a large increase in the amount of people needing their services.
The mission typically sees an increase in need during winter months, with a decrease during the spring and summer. But the number remains high along with the air temperature.
The number of people sleeping in the shelter is up about 24 percent, Newton said, and the amount of meals served there has increased nearly 58 percent.
The Muskegon Rescue Mission, 1691 Peck St., offers shelter to those who would otherwise be homeless. They offer a food pantry program for families who need food. Between the shelter and food pantry program, about 3,000 meals are served each week.
The bags packed for the food pantry program are “packed with purpose,” Newton said. Three meals a day are packed, and the amount of food doled out depends on the size of the family.
For those who need to stay long-term, the mission offers a program that requires the resident to take classes to better prepare them for life outside the shelter.
The organization operates on donations of food, personal care items and monetary contributions.
For some people, this is the first time they’ve needed to ask for help, Newton said.
“We’re the bottom of the safety net,” he said, referring to people who don’t have other options for help.
Newton said some factors possibly contributing to the increase this summer include unemployment benefits running out and being cut off from cash assistance.
Holland Rescue Mission Executive Director Darryl Bartlett echoed Newton’s thoughts about the economy. Bartlett said another factor is the inability for people to find adequate long-term work.
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.