Degage Ministries Opens Expanded Kitchen and Community Center in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Degage Ministries has opened a new kitchen, dining hall and community center, the first phase of a $7.5 million expansion designed to help the organization expand services to homeless people and low-income residents.

The expansion, which also moved the shelter’s main entrance from Division Avenue to Sheldon Avenue SE, increased the dining hall from 120 to 180 seats. Degage says he now expects to serve 90,000 meals a year, up from 60,000 previously.

“We’re able to stay open longer, provide more options, especially for our customers who have health needs, and that just allows more people to come in from the cold in the winter and more people to find a cool place… in hot weather. day,” said Thelma Ensink, executive director of Degage.

The expansion is located in two buildings adjacent to Degage’s corporate headquarters at 144 S. Division Ave.

Degage tore down a historic building, known as the Carriage House, and built another structure in its place. Another building, at 139 Sheldon Ave. SE, which Degage purchased in January 2017.

Speaking at a grand opening on Monday, Ensink said the expansion provides a “dignified and beautiful setting” for homeless and low-income residents to dine and gather for events. Events include bingo nights, praise and worship events, and Bible studies.

“Our old setup limped off until the last moment,” she said after the ceremony. “A member of staff walked through the floor and then our freezer stopped in the old building.”

Founded in 1967, Degage serves between 200 and 300 people a day through its community center, women’s overnight shelter, workforce development, and by helping residents find housing and access housing records. identification.

Another element of the expansion was to move Degage’s main entrance to Sheldon Avenue SE, which has significantly less traffic than Division.

“On Division Avenue, we often find that (when) people drive by, they look at the people we serve,” Ensink said. “We just think it’s a much more worthy place for them to congregate and enter space.”

The second phase of the expansion, which is expected to be completed this fall, includes a bakery for a non-profit cookie company designed to benefit the homeless and an expansion of the Degage Women’s Shelter. It also includes a reception center for people recovering from surgery or recovering from illness.

Ensink said the extensions build on Degage’s vision of helping homeless people “feel safe, welcomed and valued.”

Founded in 1967, Degage serves between 200 and 300 people a day through its community center, women’s overnight shelter, workforce development, and by helping residents find housing and access housing records. identification. It moved to its current location in the 1990s, Esnik said.

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