By David Fleet
Brandon Twp.- At about 10 p.m., on a cold, windy late April evening Megan Berra crawled into a cardboard tarp covered box.
The makeshift structure was the 18 year old Brandon Senior’s home for the night.
“My worry was the tarp was going to blow off later in the night,” Berra said. “I was happy it was not pouring rain but, it was chilly not freezing cold like a winter night. I was fine, but it really opened eyes and made me very grateful for what I have.”
Berra along with other members of the St. Anne High School Youth group recently fasted and spent the night outside in homemade box shelters to support and raise awareness of the issues of homelessness. The Box City was created on the grounds of St. Anne.
Kim Zernec is the St. Anne Youth Minister and works to provide the homelessness experience in addition to how to help others.
“We learned the causes and cures for homelessness from two men from ‘Grace Center of Hope’ homeless shelter in Pontiac,” said Zernec.
The youth group is raising money and collecting items for the Grace Center programs which provides help to conquer addiction, grow in faith, complete school, along with providing food, shelter, clothing and life skills. Daycare assistance and job placement in addition to housing are also provided.
“The residents (of Grace Center for Hope) aren’t just handed everything, they work at the shelter or one of their thrift shops and when they complete the first year have options of purchasing a home once they have secure jobs,” she said.
Currently, Grace Center is housing 250 people which includes 50 children under 18 years old. A one year commitment, regular testing along with program attendance is required.
Berra said the experience opened her eyes to the needs of others of all ages.
“You just don’t know what others are going through,” she said. “It made me want to volunteer more, I am grateful for what I have and very lucky to have a roof over my head—not everyone is so fortunate.”
Due to the conditions outside, some youth were up all night, she said.
“I slept,” she said. “Some others in my group could not get to sleep it’s sometimes not real comfortable. You worry about not having a good box to sleep in, the homeless may have tore build their structure everyday. My heart just hurts for those that experience this.”
The St. Anne Youth Group raised $379 and donated a car load of supplies to Grace Center of Hope. Donations through the end of May for Grace Center of Hope are accepted at St. Anne Catholic Church, 825 Ortonville Road. Make out checks to Grace Center of Hope.
By David Fleet