Open Door / Next Door Shelters moves beyond providing important and valuable shelter services, to helping guests move into supported housing, in preparation for fully independent housing. This supported process has helped many people succeed. Housing is a basic need, and OD/ND staff and volunteers are committed to helping in meaningful ways.
As President of The Kalamazoo County Thrivent Board we have adopted first 2 bedrooms in a house in 2007 and then a studio apt. in 2009 for one of the working poor in our county. We have had such a rewarding experience with Open Door/Next Door and be able to share with these deserving folks a residence of their own has been truly inspiring. The philosphy of ODND that someone is willing to work they deserve a decent,safe place to live is helping to give people their self respect and dignitity back. It is also a great testement to an outstanding organization when the receiptents give back to others that need them. We hope to continue to work with with ODND in the future
I am a former resident of the Open Door and Next Door Shelters. The program helped transform my life by providing support when and where I needed it. It also facilitated many of my early-recovery growing pains that were necessary for me to become a whole person. I had lived at the shelter for six months and saved enough money to move into one of their community houses. I was asked to be the house leader and I gladly accepted this responsibility. The part that helped me grow was when I had to ask two of the residents to leave because they weren't staying substance free. They were my friends and I had to choose between them and my own recovery. Thankfully, I chose recovery! This is only one example of how the safe environment of the Open Door and Next Door helped me become who I am today. I am currently a board member and also volunteer where I can for them. Being on the board has given me a wider perspective as I feel I help them understand the homeless perspective. One thing that stands out in my mind is that somewhere over 90% of the money that is donated goes directly back into the program... The people who work for the Open Door and Next Door are truly dedicated to helping.
What I love about this organization is its flexibility to meet the changing needs of the community, and its responsiveness to guests. For example, OD/ND has shifted focus form solely providing shelter to addressing the issue of affordable housing for the working poor. People with minimum wage/ no benefits jobs have difficulty affording market rate housing. OD/ND has piloted a residential program that allows working people to rent at affordable rates, while also providing follow-on services and a sense of community and support. The biggest challenge for OD/ND may be its size. The small size of the organization allows for flexibility, responsiveness and creativity. It has a veery grassroots feel. But there are limits to what a small staff can do. Growth could lead to more housing units, but could put distance between staff and guests.
Open Door and Next Door Shelters really cares about its residents and guests. It provides not only a place to stay and meals, but individualized support services, including help finding a job, saving money for an apartment, encouragement to complete GED, etc. The staff are extremely caring and helpful. Shelter guests are expected to make a plan with the staff to work towards self-sufficiency. The Residence Community provides permanent housing for low-wage workers, and involves them in the planning of resident activities.