Open Doors Kalamazoo

When COVID-19 caused everything to shut down, Open Doors Kalamazoo was only weeks away from our annual fundraising luncheon, Discover Open Doors. The event typically gathers 500 supporters of our work, “building relationships to overcome homelessness.” Our staff began working from home, the event was cancelled, and our focus turned to keeping our residents and shelter guests safe.

Meanwhile, we placed a pause on taking in new shelter guests. Those who were already guests at the shelter had to remain in their rooms. We provided tablets so that everyone could stay connected with loved ones and continue attending AA/NA meetings, if needed. More than half of our residence community experienced a loss of income. We received emergency funding to pay for their housing, provide essential needs and ensure that families with children were equipped for virtual schooling.

While addressing these immediate needs, we were also keeping a cautious eye on the horizon for the long-term impacts on the economy and housing. When we were asked to serve as one of three local partner organizations in the COVID Emergency Rental Assistance program, we seized the opportunity.

Through social media, we shared videos of residents and shelter guests telling their stories of strength and hope. In return, our supporters showed us how greatly they care about the people who live in our community. Thanks to their generous support, we have been able to help more than 200 people not just avoid homelessness but overcome it.

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